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May 08, 2007

Makan Tales (Or Dining Adventures)

First things first: Makan is a Malaysian term for "to eat". Food hawkers here in Singapore always ask this to people who approach their stalls. They ask their customers whether they like their food to be prepared for dining at the same place or nearby (thus makan - to eat here) or their customers would rather have their food placed in styrofoam and bagged to be eaten somewhere else. If you want your food to be bagged for home consumption, you would say "for take away" (yeah, take it awaaaayyy....!). I'm used to saying this back in the Philippines as "for take out". I know in America, "to go" is rather replied.

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Mini Wok Noodle - piping hot soup with fish balls, slivers of meat, crab sticks and egg inside a metal wok with a burner underneath, paired with egg noodles with mushrooms and vegetables
Mini Wok Noodle - breakfast at a nearby 24-hour Makan Eatery

Once during work, I was asked by the local clients here whether I know some Malaysian terms like Makan (seems like it's their first time to meet and work with a Filipino), hinting from their small knowledge that Filipinos had some roots from Malays and Indonesians. I told them no (of course). Though, that would be my first introduction to one of the Singaporean dining terms which comes in very handy if I feel adventurous to try a local cuisine, but always hesitant since I don't know how to communicate verbally in Mandarin, Bahasa Malaysia, or Tamil. Instead, I communicate physically (turo-turo style as I point this, point that, nod here and nod there).

But there are times the pointing system is not enough to convey a message that I want something that is not on display. And that would mean I have to converse in English which I know Singaporeans (should) have no problem in understanding. Alas, my English accent would always sound way too different from the way locals speak English to the point that some would turn their heads and look at me curiously. A few would mistake me for an American (because of my somewhat American sounding accent) while others readily think I'm a Filipino. Still, a few would be dumbfounded by me and would call on another co-worker in their dialect, asking for help in conversing in English.

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I once saw the owner of my suking makan place near our office eating a food item composed of noodles and broiled crunchy chicken feet. She told me that this is a new dish which they're planning to add in their menu. She asked me whether I have ever tried chicken feet. I told her yes, and added that in the Philippines these are known as a street food fondly called as Addidas (you know, the well-known shoe brand). Chicken feet = Addidas. For me it makes sense (I know it didn't to her, but she slowly smiled about it and told it to her husband who also manages the eatery). Ever since then, when I chance upon those chicken feet displayed in their glass counters and I order for them, the owners would tell me "Ah yes, addidas!" (emphasizing on the second syllable there). I would always cheerily smile back.


rmacapobre said...

i have always been fascinated with the relationship of our languages. and feel cheated that we failed to use it to our advantage.

makan = malaysian
kain = tagalog
kaon = visaya
to eat = english



That "Take Awaaaay!" thing made my day. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I'd link to your blog if that's okay with you.

Radioactive Adobo

Sidney said...

I love wok noodles soups! My all time favorite!

jio said...

Hi Max,
I wish that too - that we would be interested to look and learn deeper our language and make it richer. Nowadays, I hear our people are comfortable in Taglish than straight Tagalog (or a dialect or two).

Hi Genius,
Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment too. Can (ok, now I got the Singapore lingo bug, hahaha). You can / may link my site to yours.

Hi Sid,
I already yearn for rice, especially the garlic fried ones. I'm so fed up actually with eating noodle dishes. Haha.

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Known to be the webmaster of the defunct Taym Matsing website (well, that's old news now...)