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French Food at Hawker Stalls and Warnings About Hell

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

We read last weekend’s Sunday Times write-up on Saveur and Le Cuisson with mixed feelings: these are places you’d want to tell your friends about if they were of similar culinary persuasion, but you’d hope they wouldn’t tell their own friends for fear that widespread popularity might cause quality to decrease in proportion to price increase.

foie gras on bed of lentils. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat leg of duck confit with citrus segment and boulangere potato. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat
leg of duck confit with citrus segment and boulangere potato. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat angel hair pasta topped with kombu and Sakura ebi. Saveur, Ali Baba Eating House, East Coast Road, Joo Chiat

Saveur is helmed by Dylan Ong (Shatec + demi chef at local French restaurant) and Joshua Khoo (Shatec + Commis 1 Chef at local top French restaurant). Menu includes foie gras on bed of lentils, angel hair pasta topped with kombu and Sakura ebi, leg of duck confit with citrus segment and boulangere potato. Sous vide in a coffeeshop where you can order teh si kosong peng from the drinks uncle and passersby stare at the white porcelain on your table.

Le Cuisson, Queen Street Foie Gras, Le Cuisson, Queen Street
Foie Gras, Le Cuisson, Queen Street Foie Gras Salad, Le Cuisson, Queen Street

The Le Cuisson chefs, Ang Wee Siong and Kenneth Lin, hail from db Bistro Moderne. But the media reports are silent as to their role in Daniel Boulud’s Singapore kitchen. Menu includes foie gras* as well (the size of this seems to vary, and it was once overcooked),

Steak & mash, Le Cuisson, Queen Street Steak & mash, Le Cuisson, Queen Street
Le Cuisson, Queen Street Chicken Roulade, Le Cuisson, Queen Street

grilled steak (with house pepper mix, mesclun salad, pomme puree, green pepper sauce), seabass (i think!), and chicken roulade.

Yesterday, we looked at news that could be told without detriment to the benefit accrued or to be accrued to the speaker. In fact, it is news that must be told by anyone who has any humanity and compassion about him:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said,’Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not do so, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said,’They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said,’No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him,’If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'” (Luke 16:19-31)

  • Popular culture sees Jesus as a bit of a hippie – all about universal love and acceptance, but a quick search shows that he mentions hell the most in the New Testament.
  • We usually talk about everyone (Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, young children, soldiers killed in war, beloved pets) going to heaven without stopping to consider that there may be an admission criteria for heaven and that the alternative could be a place/state called “hell”. Well, whether or not the rich man believed in hell or any sort of afterlife, he experienced it as reality eventually. Hell is described throughout the New Testament as a terrible place where there is the gloom of utter darkness (2 Peter 2:17), the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12), and from this passage, where there will be no hope of any sort of relief from suffering.
  • The rich man’s problem really wasn’t that he was rich since Abraham himself was fairly wealthy; it was his refusal to acknowledge God as God and worship him and to obey his commandment (the gist of “Moses and the Prophets” = the Old Testament, being love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself). If we are defined by our money or career, or the approval of others, or the pleasures of life, or the mark we have made in this world, and not by our relationship with our Creator, then we are in a wee bit of trouble.
  • If what Jesus says is true (and Abraham and the Prophets have already been saying the same thing for hundreds of years), then all this talk about hell isn’t part of some scare tactic to get people to join the Christian club. Rather, it is a real warning of coming disaster and the right response would be to try to avoid it at all cost.
  • The Bible isn’t an instruction book on how to win friends and influence people or to get rich/blessing quick with handouts from “Daddy God” or about fighting spiritual wars with parking lot attendants and people who block your promotion at work; much more important than that, it warns us to avoid hell at all costs (eg. Matthew 5:29-30) and tells us how to do so – John 3:16 “for God so loved the world, he gave his only Son – that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.
  • This is the news that needs to be told.

Chit, Le Cuisson, Queen Street

Saveur (facebook)
Ali Baba Eating House, Foodstall No 3
125 East Coast Road, Singapore 428810

Current opening hours:
Mon – Tue: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Wed: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Thu – Sat: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun: 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Le Cuisson (facebook)
Blk 269b Queen Street, # 01-236, Singapore 180269
Current opening hours:
Tue – Sun: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

*studied available evidence. Not convinced that ducks who swallow spiky fish whole are terribly put-out by being force-fed grain. Probably erroneous to anthropomorphise every thing. Anthony Bourdain is more emotional about this.

  1. gee
    October 24, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    regarding your comment about foie gras – care to share what those available evidence might be? am interested to read up more.

    imo those who slam foie gras farming as cruel, yet happily eat intensively-farmed animal produce, are hypocrites.

    i guess we often think of hell as a place for the evil, and ok maybe we //are// evil, but what strikes me most about this passage is the fact that the rich man wanted to warn his brothers – there’s humanity left in this guy but obviously he’s still a goat, which is such a sobering reminder that hell is a place that even decent people can go to. and that sends a chill down my spine.

    by the way it wasn’t explicitly stated that the rich man refused to acknowledge God as God and worship him and to obey his commandment, neither was it stated that Lazarus worshiped god, so is this inferred only because of the outcomes (i.e. rich man in hell, therefore he must’ve rejected god. lazarus in heaven, therefore he must’ve worshiped god)? if the point of the parable is really about belief rather than wealth, why then is there so much emphasis on the difference in their financial states, rather than on their faiths (or lack thereof)?

    • October 25, 2011 at 2:48 am

      foie gras: it seems most complaints center around (i) terrible living conditions; and (ii) force-feeding. The former isn’t distinct to foie-gras fowl, and if the arguments that gavage actually capitalises on what ducks/geese do in the wild before migration anyway are true, and the fowl are not unduly stressed or do not suffer because of this, then it’s hard to see why it is especially cruel. It seems fairly neutral vis a vis any other type of animal husbandry. The Physiology of Foie article puts some of the counter-arguments forward but there’s other more scientific evidence on specifics of the physiological reaction of fowl to force-feeding elsewhere on the internets.

      I think the basis for caring for animals is more important because having the right motivation would prevent incidents similar to that suffered by Laurent Manrique and others and would take into account all evidence (and perhaps cultural differences) before deciding on an appropriate course of action. Otherwise, it’s just another case of imposing my blinkered view on the rest of the world and resorting to violence when i don’t get my way – sometimes, if i’m seen as a dictator, the world rejoices at my murder; other times, they might hail me a martyr.

      It is right to be concerned about the welfare of animals because we are meant to care for the world (Genesis), and ideally, we would be able ask for and receive adequate information about the source of every animal product we purchase, even the venison from the zi char stall or the lard in the char kway teow – especially living conditions and manner of death, so as to be able to make choices about what to consume. And surely it should be the same with anything else we consume – like the use of the internet (and i say this without sarcasm): why not ask what environmental issues have been caused by the onshore digging and the offshore laying of fibre optic cables, about the labour cost of a team of people working to ensure that servers are continuously up and running perhaps to the detriment of their health and family life, who do not have enough colleagues to share the burden because of opposition to the number of foreigners in the country possibly by the same people who demand quick and competent service 24/7 but complain if prices are raised or if their dividends in the teleco drop due to increased labour costs etc? It’s hard to be simplistic but equally difficult to obtain perfect knowledge about everything before making any decision.

      parable: yes, the passage does describe the wealth of the rich man and the wretchedness of the poor man in some detail, and the rich man is nameless while the poor man is named. This can either be the main issue in the passage or a description of the contrast between the temporary current life and the eternal life-to-come. i don’t think financial state per se is the main thing because Abraham says that the rich man’s five brothers would be able to avoid a similar fate if they took warning from Moses and the Prophets (“Moses and the Prophets” being shorthand for the whole of the Old Testament). The inference is that the rich man too should have had sufficient warning about how his actions and decisions in this life would affect the afterlife. And major injunctions throughout the Old Testament can adequately be summarised as love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength and (therefore) love your neighbour as yourself.

      Also, the context of the parable within this bit of the Gospel of Luke warning about idolatry and justifying ourselves, rather worshipping God and having him justify us. Don Carson explains it well here.

  2. gee
    October 28, 2011 at 2:49 am

    thanks for taking the time to reply :):)

  1. October 25, 2011 at 1:58 am
  2. April 24, 2012 at 8:16 am

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