Singapore is known the world over as a foodie’s paradise. Many a BuzzFeed listicle has been written about the sumptuous Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian influenced local cuisine that allows my motherland to boast some of the best food in Southeast Asia. So you can imagine my immense disappointment when, upon arriving in rural Connecticut for college, I was greeted with the tasteless, repetitive and artery-clogging fare that sets the scene for the typical campus dining hall experience. My taste buds could only handle so many bland meat dishes, cheeseburgers and trips to the dubiously titled “Mongolian Grill” station before crying out in protest, long deprived of the hearty spice and complex flavors that characterize the dishes I was used to noshing on back home.
After months of dousing my meals with Sriracha sauce and feasting on many a family-sized pack of Oreos for dinner, I finally discovered EFoodDepot: An online grocery store dedicated to providing expats in America with various Asian delicacies, snacks and pantry staples. Along with its counterparts like Asian Food Grocer, H Mart, iShopIndian, Patel Brothers and MARUKAI eSTORE, to name a few, this was the only way for a homesick kid stranded in suburban America to easily procure the types of comfort food she was desperately missing. And other than being significantly cheaper that the stuff they hawk on Amazon and eBay or what you’d find at your regular grocery store, the variety of products available on these sites is tops. Aside from the standard instant noodles, sauce pastes and herbal teas, they also sell everything from squid flavored seaweed and spicy prawn marinade to preserved duck eggs and canned bamboo shoots.
Indeed, these online stores have been my saving grace—a way for me to satiate my cravings without breaking the bank or having to make the three-hour trek to New York to patronize the city’s Asian supermarkets. With each new package that arrived at my dorm room—crammed to the brim with taro chips, sambal paste, sticky coconut candy and the chrysanthemum tea I used to chug with my grandma after school—I felt a deep sense of gratitude toward these websites for helping me cope with my homesickness, maintaining my connection to Singapore during the cold New England winter months and providing me with a little taste of home.
Published in the #INTERNETISSUE of The Runcible Spoon