Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
Sep 23, 2015
Professional tennis players are revered like rock stars.
We witnessed such fanaticism in our heartlands last Friday as we followed Danish tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki around on her maiden visit to an iconic local hawker haven.
At Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, the 25-year-old former world No. 1, who was in town at the invitation of Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Sport Singapore, turned heads, with her towering 1.79m frame and blonde locks.
Some onlookers started snapping away with their cameras and mobile phones. Others dashed up to her excitedly with photo requests which she gladly entertained.
Despite not having much of an appetite that morning for the famous Jian Bo Shui Kueh chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes with preserved radish), nor the assortment of dim sum items including egg tarts and curry puffs that STB had ordered, Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 6 in the world, gave a thumbs-up to Singapore's hawker culture.
"It's unique. You see so many people eating here, with all the best food in Singapore housed in one place," said the bachelorette, who was previously in a high-profile three-year relationship with Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy.
"Plus, it's clean, not too expensive, everyone can afford it. Very nice."
She added: "We don't have hawker centres in Denmark. The only affordable options are fast-food chains like McDonald's and Burger King in shopping malls."
One thing about dining at hawker centres gets to her though: The heat and humidity.
"Yeah, it's a little warm for me. My hair doesn't like it," Wozniacki said with a laugh.
You were in Singapore last October to compete in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals. What are your memories of Singapore? Did you try any local cuisine then?
I like Singapore, it's a great city, a great country. The atmosphere at the WTA championship was just amazing.
Unfortunately, last year, I didn't get to try any Singapore food. I managed to get my fill of some dishes after I arrived (this time). I'm not a fan of seafood, so no crabs for me. I know I had chicken rice. I can't remember the names of the other dishes. (Laughs)
How about local restaurants? Did you dine at any?
Yes, I went to two restaurants, Wild Rocket and Candlenut. Both were very good.
I got to see the kitchens and meet the chefs, it was a learning experience.
How different is Singapore food from Danish food?
Singapore food is flavourful and tasty, but it's "lighter" than Danish food. I think it's because the chefs here don't use much sauce in their cooking.
There's definitely more spice than sauce. Danish food, on the other hand, is very heavy and lots of sauces are used.
What is one Danish dish you'd highly recommend to Singaporeans?
It would be pork with potatoes and brown sauce. It's very Danish. However, I try to keep my diet clean, so I can't eat that too often.
Is your regular diet super strict and rigorous?
It's strict, but not overly strict. As athletes, we burn so many calories, so I allow myself to indulge once in a while. I love chocolates and ice cream, basically anything sweet!
What is a typical victory meal for you? What do you pig out on after winning a match?
Well, I take a lot of proteins to restore my muscles. I also make sure I have some carbs in my system.
What is your idea of a nice dinner date? Are you big on romantic ambience in restaurants?
Ambience is important, but so is the food. I would say that I'm not a very picky person.
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