I’m not the bravest man in the world when it comes to trying new culinary treats but when I saw a picture in a Singapore food hall of a wonderfully colourful Malaysian specialty known as Ice Kacheng, I just couldn’t resist. Big mistake.
Billed by the Singapore tourist site as “the perfect dessert for cooling off in Singapore’s wretchedly hot and humid weather”, Ice Kacheng (or Ais Kaceng) is a shaved ice dessert comprising jelly, condensed milk, flavoured syrups and, like all good desserts, red beans, sweet corn and palm seeds.
As I said, I’m not a brave man but equally I’m not a picky eater, nor am I blind. I really don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe it looked so good in the picture that I was willing to ignore the sweetcorn on top – or maybe I thought it was going to be a special kind of sweetcorn, one that went well in desserts.
But nothing could have prepared me for those red beans that were lurking under the surface of the dessert, or for the bad case of brain freeze and buyer’s remorse that followed. Suffice it to say, this was one dessert that wasn’t eaten before it melted.
I’m not trying to put you off (it’s probably a well-loved dessert in Malaysia); I’m simply offering up an example of an experience that may not have gone exactly to plan but was well worth taking the risk anyway.
I’d like to think I got something out of it, even if it was just a crazy story to tell my friends of a “strange” dessert I had once while backpacking around Southeast Asia. After all, travel should be all about pushing boundaries and trying new things. However disgusting they may turn out to be.