Because Food Makes Us Tick

What if our combat rations were made up of local hawker delights?

By Alywin Chew        5 September 2022

I honestly think that Singapore has the best food in the world. 

As much as I love a good bowl of ramen, nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl of laksa. I also adore Spanish tapas because of the variety it offers, but I love the variety that economical rice, aka chye png, offers even more.

What can I say? I grew up eating these things. There’s no way I can be partial.

I must admit that we humans can be highly illogical creatures. We love proclaiming what we love to be the best in the world, even though we haven’t compared them to similar things in the world. 

Take for instance, mothers. Many people love proclaiming that their mothers are the best mothers they could ever ask for. 

But this is in fact a bizarre statement to make, because it implies you were raised by multiple mothers. I mean, how else were you able to compare mothers and come up with an objective ranking?

I’m always tickled when people debate about whether Singapore has the best food or the best iteration of a particular dish in the world. Why? Because it’s pointless to argue about such things. 

You see, it is simply impossible to be objective about this matter. Everyone has his or her own personal preference. Some people love durian. Others find it repulsive. Period. There’s really no need to be up in arms and expecting people to come to a consensus of your liking. 

But I think we might have a consensus with combat rations – there’s definitely room for improvement.

I know, I know, combat rations are supposed to be a practical means of sustenance. But think about it from another perspective – combat rations can be more than that. 

They can be catalysts for combat effectiveness. 

Can you imagine if our combat rations are made up of award-winning, Michelin-starred local hawker delights? Think easy-to-prepare, vacuum packed bak chor mee, roti prata and nasi lemak. You can bet our soldiers would be more motivated to fight than ever. And I reckon this is especially so because Singaporeans don’t eat to live. We live to eat.

By the way, I’m speaking from personal experience. Back when I was in OCS, the course commander threw down the gauntlet for the final IPPT test before we graduated. The challenge? Every cadet had to get gold for the test.

What followed was absolute mayhem. People yelling. People panting. People puking. The last thing I remembered was crossing the finish line and nearly fainting.

But we did it. We created history. We were the first cohort of officer cadets in the history of the School of Armour to attain 100 per cent IPPT gold. 

The next year, the new commanding officer of the course called me into his office to ask just how we did it.

“Did you guys have a special training regime?” he asked.

“No, sir,” I replied.

“Was it the camaraderie? A special diet? How on earth did you guys do it?”

“Incentive, sir. We simply needed an incentive.”

“Hmm. The course commander threatened to give everyone guard duty?”


“Fine. I give up. So, what was the incentive?”

“Canteen break lor.”

LOL Mondays is an ongoing series of slice-of-life stories from freelance writer and NSman Alywin Chew. Look out for the humorous tales which will be posted every first Monday of the month, to help you drive away your Monday blues!

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