Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The food Kingdoms

Not long after Kaelyn Ong gave a not so flattering review for the cakes and desserts at a shop at Joo Chiat called Obolo in her popular food blog, she received an email from the folks at Obolo telling her to remove the posting or run the risk of being sued.


Sued? For what? For not liking their cakes and telling others about it? It doesn’t take an legal expert to see that Obolo may have been a bit ahead of itself. We haven’t heard Stephen Speilberg suing movie reviewers who said unflattering things about his work. Yes, J.K. Rowling has sued people for plagiarism, but I’ve never heard her sue any reviewer or hater who didn’t like Harry Potter. What about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger? Has he sued anybody for laughing at his acting and his not so intellectual movies? Why are our local cake shops behaving like some of our local politicians then?

Maybe I’ve already answered my own question. But unlike the pitifully tenacious politicians at the receiving end of endless lawsuits, Miss Ong drew a tide of supporters on her side. Obolo was blasted for its bullying tactics. Everyone was calling for a boycott.

So why did Obolo do such a silly thing? Because they thought that as a young undergrad, Miss Ong would get frightened, give in to their threats and do as told? Well, that might have worked with me when I was Miss Ong’s age. But times have changed. Miss Ong’s defiance spoke volumes of the youngsters today. You can’t push them around anymore.

But then again, something didn’t and won’t really change. In spite of all the bad publicity, Obolo is unlikely to suffer much. That’s my prediction. Why? Because foodies are cheap. The endure rudeness, arrogance and profiteering from “good” hawkers just to get their fix. And just before I wrote this blog entry, I was at a noodle stall at Lucky Plaza. I ordered a chicken noodle and it took them ages to deliver. It’s only when i stared angrily at the other customers who got their food before me that they bothered to explain the cause for the delay - by shouting across 4 tables. When my food finally arrived, they didn’t even bother to apologise. In spite of such rudeness and arrogance (and their food is not exactly great), the stall still sees an enless stream of customers. Courtesy and good service are not criteria for success in this food business here. Every successful stall swarming with customers and long queues probably sees itself as a little kingdom and the hawkers running them act like kings.

I dare now imagine how I would be treated if their soy chicken were a bit more tender and their gravy a little more flavourful. The photo below is not taken at the stall I patronised. The last thing I want is to advertise for them.

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