Letters to the Editor

Page 3 of 3

For the past three years, I have lived and worked in Singapore (I run two kitchens here), so it was with interest that I saw "Singapore for Your Supper." One thing that jumped out at me while reading was Sheehan's constant referral to these restaurants as Malaysian. Malaysia is a country, as is Singapore. Singapore is not a part of Malaysia; it is a country made up of 77 percent ethnic Chinese (with Chinese cuisine making up the vast majority of food to be had here), with only 12 percent of the population being ethnic Malay. Why should it be a "sin of epic proportions for any Malaysian restaurant" to not offer roti canai (which is an Indian dish, by the way)?

Judging by the names of the two restaurants reviewed last week, they aren't Malaysian restaurants, but Singaporean, so why the expectation of Malay/Indian food? That would be like eating at a restaurant in Mexico City and requesting a hamburger, saying that it is "a sin of epic proportions for any American restaurant" to not offer hamburgers. P.S.: Props to Sheehan on using the F-word in his review last week. Tres punk rock!

Dan Durkin
Singapore, Singapore

Jason Sheehan responds: I'm tempted to agree with you, Dan, simply because you're there in Singapore, where I've never been. The fact of the matter, though, is that cuisine does not stop and start at borders, but exists on a spectrum of taste. When I was referring to these places as "Malaysian restaurants," I was talking about them in terms of flavor, not geography. Despite their names -- Singapore Grill and Isle of Singapore -- these restaurants are Malaysian. Singaporean cuisine, by reason of those statistics you mention, is essentially a slightly spicier version of Cantonese broadened by the inclusion of certain spices and techniques borrowed from other regions. The population of Malaysia, on the other hand, is made up of more than half Malay, 30 percent Chinese and 10 percent Indian, and it's this marginal difference in ethnicity that sets the cuisine apart (in my opinion) by building for it a mellower, more complicated, almost tropical base. Yes, both restaurants had Chinese sides to their menus, but they also featured dishes from all over Southeast Asia's culinary spectrum, and woven through many of those dishes was an essence of Indian cooking that -- for me, anyhow -- is what separates Singaporean chow from Malaysian.

Crash Landing

Rocket man: I found Marty Jones's "We Have Liftoff," in the September 12 issue, extremely disappointing. I would think that he would have enough knowledge and respect for local bands (especially when writing an article to promote a show) to dig a little bit deeper than he did.

Rocket Ajax wants to be Korn? Go back to Rocket Ajax and ask them what they thought of the article, and I'll bet you find some very disappointed musicians.

It seems to me that Rocket Ajax getting an article in Westword before pushing off for the struggle for fame in Los Angeles should be a promotional benefit, not an embarrassment. Getting a mention in Westword should feel like an accomplishment, a compliment of sorts, but instead Marty Jones just dragged them down and made them seem like complete losers. Perhaps Marty Jones is not familiar with Rocket Ajax. Perhaps Marty Jones is biased in his music preferences. Whatever the problem is, I hope other bands (especially the tightly knit family of musicians here in Denver) will be forewarned about Marty Jones's poor journalistic skills and lack of musical heart.

Allison Scobey

He Write Pretty Someday

Quote notes: I just read Marty Jones's excellent "Pretty Poison," his September 19 review of John Davis's CD Dreams of the Lost Tribe.

John must be thrilled with the praise Jones bestowed upon his efforts, especially these two lines: "...a debut that plays like some Tennessee Williams version of O Dixie, Where Art Thou?" and "Dreams of the Lost Tribe is a stunning piece of work by any standard, and a debut of masterful, almost scary proportions."

Hell, if I were John, I'd immediately get labels printed with those quotes and affix them to every remaining copy of the CD! Anyway, great writing.

Carey Driscoll
via the Internet

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