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West Coast Market, Singapore

Food stall 1

Old bald man at market yong tau foo* store
stands below his sign:
10 pieces for $4, $2 per bowl, 50 cents rice.

In between serving customers
before the weekend crowd builds up,
one hand on aproned waist,
the other holding a glass of kopi-si*,
he sips, whilst
biting into his home-made fried bean curd
stuffed with fillings,
clearly food-tasting and hunger-stalling
while his wife munches her pink rice-kueh* hastily,
stacking bowls of mee hoon yong tau hoo expertly.
(talk about multi-tasking).

For just one brief moment,
they sit down on the plastic bench in front of their store.
Within earshot,
they discuss last night’s ma-piew pou*
(we all have our strike-rich dreams).

As if on cue,
several customers appear in a queue.
Old man darts back in front of his steaming pot of soup stock flavoured from yellow
soya and ikan bilis*,
old woman stands by his side to pass him the ready-to-be-served bowls
awaiting an experienced ladle of soup,
while another elderly kin is inside laying out more pieces of food.

*kopi-si – black coffee with condensed milk
*rice-kueh – rice-cake
*yong tau foo – like canapés, not as delicate or decorative, a buffet spread of food items such as bean curd, vegetables, fishballs, eggs, fried foods et cetera (see picture)
*ma-piew pou -lottery
*ikan bilis – anchovies

(West Coast Market, Singapore, 2014)