Frog Porridge

1.312723258290198, 103.87928286812601

There’s a productivity technique called “Eat the Frog.” As I understand it, the idea is this: every day, you start with the most challenging task on your list (the frog) and you do that first (eat it). This feeling of accomplishment will either carry you breezily through several more tasks, or you take the rest of the day off, but can rest happily in the knowledge that you’ve got at least one big thing less to worry about. It sounds like a sensible system. If the idea behind “eat the frog” is based on the idea that frogs are difficult or unpleasant to eat, however, then it’s time for it to be renamed.

On a street corner in Singapore, a tornado of staff ferries bowls of frog porridge and an assortment of other dishes to small plastic tables. An open kitchen and relatively bare surroundings, the overall impression is less of a restaurant, but rather buying food directly from the foreman of a busy factory floor. A woman with carefully manicured and bejewelled nails, in contrast to almost everything else within eyesight, takes our money and seems to telepathically transmit our order to the small army of cooks in the background, who all the while have been stirring and ladling.

With a few particular exceptions, I’ll try to eat almost anything once. Most things I’ll eat as often as I can get my hands on. Still, I’d never eaten frog porridge before and it’s normal to be a little apprehensive about the unknown. Will it be slimy or crispy? Do frogs… have bones? Will they be diced, or a sort of paste, or a complete set of legs, lifted directly from a children’s comic book? In other words, will it be recognisably froggy?

We ordered one bowl of porridge with three spicy frogs to go, killed twenty minutes wandering the neighbourhood, circled back, and picked them up. More or less what one might expect. Small chunks of soft and slightly chewy meat in an extremely rich, salty, dark brown sauce. Visibly meaty, but you’d be hard pressed to say which animal just by looking. All sat atop a delicious bowl of rice porridge.

Between the unflagging love for aircon and what struck me as uncharacteristically cold weather, I’d somehow spent most of the trip being cold. The weather app was telling me it was 28°C, which I doubted. Further down the page, it tells me that it “feels like 32.” The app, perhaps as surprised as I am at the cold, was doing its best to deny reality. I thought about the jacket that I’d left at home, a puffy bomber that would probably shoot me from too cold straight to being too warm. I’ve managed to cunningly ensure that I can be uncomfortable in every situation. Busines as usual. At least the porridge was good.

Respond to this post via e-mail