My mum, sis and I had lunch at Magma, the German restaurant. While we were deciding what to eat, my mother looked around and commented that this would be a nice place to bring the Tan clan.
We asked how many tables the restaurant could seat, and noted that it could accommodate all 30 of us.
At this point, the waitress was unable to hold back her curiosity, and ventured a question.
“Are you Singaporeans?”
That question was surprising, because we’ve dined out so many times over the decades and nobody’s mistaken us for foreigners. We speak with Singaporean accents (without the Singlish), and we don’t look particularly foreign. And the waitress herself appeared to be a local.
We told her we were Singaporeans. What made her ask that question?
She indicated that not many locals come to this place. Well, that doesn’t make us non-Singaporeans. I’ve dined at Magma for a few years and even had a Christmas dinner with a big group of colleagues (all locals) here.
Later on, I realised the waitress hadn’t completely gotten over the phenomenon of locals wanting to eat at this non-local restaurant.
“Hmm, they have beef tartar on the menu too!” I murmured. “But that’s not really German enough for me.”
“Beef tartar is raw,” interjected the waitress. She meant well but it didn’t seem to register that we were not uninitiated country buffoons.
“I know. I’ve been eating beef tartar for many years,” I replied.
Thereafter, we were left alone, but I could not forget this strong impression the waitress seemed to have - that this was only a place for expats, perhaps, and that local people do not know how to eat this kind of food.
Heard of Oktoberfest?? (yes, that’s more Bavarian, as my German classmates tell me, but the point is that Singaporeans are not all ‘sua koo’)
Overall, it was a most amusing exchange and I hope we have busted all the myths attached to our ‘local’ stereotype :)