Whenever I send my boys to Whampoa for their music classes, I will go down to one of the neighboring café for a cup of coffee while I work on my writings; I will always try to write. I do (LOL). Anyway, I never fail to visit one of the oldest trades in Singapore, one of the surviving trades, and perhaps, one of the declining trades in time to come. The setup is humble and yet mesmerizing. It is always an intriguing visit, and today I get to see the men at work in one of this aged bakery, Traditional Bakery Supplier, located at 10 kim Keat Lane.
Traditional Bakery Supplier is just one of the handful suppliers of fresh bread. They operate in a small factory producing fresh bread to the local traditional coffee shops serving toasted bread with kaya and butter, and goes well with a cup of fragrance coffee, or to the traditional ice cream vendor who wraps two scoops of your favorite ice cream in a piece of bread to whet your palate or to cool yourself during a scotching hot day. This enduring culture has been quietly serving from my dad’s generation until now. From almost 200 over such factories in the 70’s, it becomes a dwindling figure of perhaps less than the count of the sum of the fingers of both hands. Nevertheless, it is my envy of their witnessing the change of the façade of the country, the change in the patrons, and their declining businesses – an inevitable change with time.
Don’t expect to find any yuppies working in this little factory. You will that most of the workers are already the quite elder workers who has toiled their whole life producing such wonderful staple food for our mums and dads so many years ago. Today, you will still find their bread in some of the modern coffee shops serving a retrospective style of bread and coffee of the 70s. The bread is again toasted till almost burnt and a slice of cold butter and kaya is sandwiched between one piece of the toasted bread. The chef simply slice the same piece of toasted bread into halves before applying a spread of kaya (a traditional egg jam with coconut) and a slice of cold butter. My dad would dip the bread into a cup of traditional black coffee before slipping into the mouth, and let the caffeine stimulate the taste buds, while the whole stuff almost melt in your mouth, and rockets you to heaven.
It is an inspiration to see them working tirelessly 24/7 to satisfy the appetite of the customers still craving for a taste of memories. When I see this bakery, I feel an affinity towards this little and almost run down factory. Just like the factory, almost an act of nature, we will one day be replaced by the next wave. As of now, we are probably doing our best to provide to the maximum to those around us, and soon be consumed by the next clasp gracefully.
If you get to visit this shop in 10 Kim Keat Lane, get a loaf of the bread or French loaf, and enjoy every pieces of life – from the past to the present, and is also ushering us to the future – in this soft and homemade bread, with grace and flavor, and gratitude.