There is a deep belief in these parts that the dead may be dead — but that little detail shouldn’t get in the way of serving them a good meal.
And so in Singaporean wet markets, alongside stalls selling vegetables and plump pigs’ trotters, you’ll find little places that hawk food of a different kind. Shelves will be filled with boxes of paper dumplings, chicken feet and other dimsum treats — the idea is to burn them as offerings so your deceased loved ones will get them on the Other Side.
I hadn’t seen one of these in a while, mostly because when I’m in these markets I tend to race over to stalls that sell food that I can actually eat.
Like, now. Not when I’m in the Big Upstairs shamelessly flirting with River Phoenix.
So I was pleasantly surprised to see how upscale some of the offerings had gotten since I was a kid. Paper versions of sashimi and fixings for Chinese hotpots or shabu-shabu seemed popular. Seafood was prevalent — gigantic lobsters, fist-sized oysters and fierce tiger prawns were everywhere.
The fashion writer in me loved the fact that you can get paper versions of Louis Vuitton Murakami bags and totes by Gucci and Burberry to burn for the dead.
(What would Marc Jacobs say?)
I’ve been thinking about these offerings since I left the market today. My needs when I’m gone will be simple, I imagine.
A little Indian fried chicken, a side of prime rib, a basic Prada tote (the calfskin-paper version, please) and a pair of Louboutins, and I should be just alright.