Whetting kids' appetite for their food culture

Ms Debra Ann Francisco during the reading session at her book launch at Forum the Shopping Mall last Saturday. The former teacher hopes her books will find their way into the homes of Singaporean families living here and overseas.
Ms Debra Ann Francisco during the reading session at her book launch at Forum the Shopping Mall last Saturday. The former teacher hopes her books will find their way into the homes of Singaporean families living here and overseas.ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

Ex-teacher hopes her books will get kids to learn more about Singapore's ethnic food

Parents can now use a series of new illustrated children's books to teach their kids about Singapore's diverse food culture.

The five books, each focusing on the food heritage of a different group - Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and Peranakans - come with recipes and activities that parents can do with their children.

The series is the brainchild of Ms Debra Ann Francisco, 42, a teaching specialist with The Straits Times' Schools team. She taught English and English literature in local schools for 14 years before joining ST Schools.

Ms Francisco is of Eurasian and Peranakan heritage, while her husband has Indian and Peranakan roots. She described the books as a personal endeavour "sparked by the worry that the next generation of kids will grow up preferring burgers and fries to the dishes of their own culture".

The mother of three boys, aged 16, 14 and nine, said she was concerned her children could grow up alienated from their ethnic food.

The books incorporate festivals that are celebrated locally such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali.

Ms Francisco said she peppered the stories with the "realities of life" - which parents can draw on to teach their children. For instance, in one of the books, the main character's nenek (grandmother), though feisty, is in a wheelchair, while in another book, the protagonist learns about death and grief.

Ms Francisco described the books as a personal endeavour "sparked by the worry that the next generation of kids will grow up preferring burgers and fries to the dishes of their own culture".

 
 

Said Ms Francisco: "I hope these books will find their way into the homes of Singaporean families living here and overseas."

About the books The five books have illustrations by Ms Madeline Wee and are published by ST Press. They are:

•Mei Lin And The Reunion Dinner

•Hafiz And The Raya Recipes

•Emma And The Eurasian Potluck

•Vinod And The Deepavali Dishes

•Beverly And The Peranakan Feast

Each book has three recipes of dishes synonymous with each culture. There are also activities that parents can do with their children.

The books retail at $16 (including GST) each and can be found at major bookstores.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2018, with the headline 'Whetting kids' appetite for their food culture'. Print Edition | Subscribe