The smells of the Toa Payoh that I grew up in

7 07 2010

For some reason I seem to be dwelling on the subject of the smells I was familiar with in my childhood. Having revisited the smells of the seaside and that of fermented shrimp, I am now revisiting some of the aromas that I grew up smelling in Toa Payoh. There was the smell of curry puffs that greeted me through the front door of course, as well as the “fowl” smell of poultry and the wonderful aroma of spices that I encountered in the market. There were also the two glorious aromas that I distinctly remembered. The first being the rich robust aroma that came wafted up from the market area each morning which always was accompanied by the sight of a man turning a cylindrical object fashioned out of a steel drum over a charcoal fire burning in half of another steel drum placed below it. That was the aroma of coffee being roasted at the end of Block 94 by what I assume would have been the proprietor of the coffee shop before Lee Nam Kee took over the premises and made a fortune over Soya Sauce Chicken Rice. It is probably hard to imagine it today, and I am not sure if it was indeed my imagination, but I very distinctly remember the rich aroma reaching my nose from 19 floors down and across Lorong 4. That would sometimes draw me out to the common corridor facing Lorong 4, from which I would be able to watch the man in the white tee-shirt turning the drum very slowly.

There is nothing like the rich robust aroma of coffee beans being roasted.

Another aroma that I would grow accustomed to inhaling in Toa Payoh was the smell of freshly baked bread. That would come from the bakery at the corner of Block 47 off Lorong 6. I loved the aroma so much that I often made it a point to ask my grandmother to take me past the bakery on her evening walks, where we would be greeted not just by the aroma of freshly baked bread being taken out from the old style ovens, but also by the sight of loafs of bread being left to cool on racks and a busy baker slicing off the crust of loaves of bread on the large work table, slicing the spongy soft white bread and packing them into plastic bags ready for sale. Wandering around Toa Payoh, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the bakery is still there, going about its business in very much the same way. And in passing by, I was brought back to the smells of my childhood once again.

There's nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread.

The Singapore Bakery in Toa Payoh.



4 responses

8 07 2010

I can almost get the fresh aroma of the freshly baked bread…yum…great pictures!! 🙂

9 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

Doesn’t it smell great? Thanks bookjunkie! 🙂

2 08 2010
Skylight Images

Wow! Haven’t smelled roasting coffee in a long time… where in Toa Payoh do they do that???


2 08 2010
The wondering wanderer

This was years ago at the end of the 1960s … just by the Lorong 4 market in Toa Payoh …

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