Two neighbours sow the seeds of cultural preservation with the blue pea flower
When Ms Janna Hussain, 38, a drama practitioner and educator, and her family moved into their maisonette in Pasir Ris two years ago, a friendship quickly blossomed with her new neighbour.
Ms Janna was quick to notice that Ms Carlyn Law, 47, an artist, grew a lot of the blue pea plant in the communal garden, which sparked conversations on gardening and culinary tips involving the blue flower.
The Blue Pea Wonder Workshop, which they will host on May 21 as part of the Singapore Heritage Fest, is a multi-faceted 2½-hour event targeted at nature, art and culinary enthusiasts. Participants can try their hand at cooking and working with the blue pea flower, while exploring its many uses and health benefits.
"We hope to empower people to use the blue pea by sharing tips on how they can go back to their roots of making and growing their own food," said Ms Janna.
Added Ms Law: "It came so naturally that we decided to organise this workshop together. We have a lot of creative ideas together so we wanted to do something related to what we were most passionate about - food."
Their affinity for cooking stemmed from home economics lessons at school and slowly developed over time. Ms Law, a mother to a son, said: "When your children are growing up, you want to give them the most nutritious food to build their immunity and to cultivate their taste buds early so they don't grow up to be picky with their food."
Though Ms Janna, who has three daughters, also feels that way, she noted that the turning point in her appreciation for cooking came when she realised that if she did not learn her family recipes now, they could be lost forever.
The preservation of Singapore's heritage is what they hope to emphasise to their workshop participants. Ms Law said what she appreciates most about Singaporeans is their openness to embracing different cuisines and making them a part of their identity.
Yet she stresses that it is important not to dismiss their decades-old heritage even though there is a need to evolve and adapt to appeal to future generations.
Commonly used as food colouring because of its antioxidant compounds (anthocyanins) that give the flower its unique hue, this ingredient also comes in powdered form or as an essence available in stores.
In explaining the gradual popularisation of the floral ingredient in menus across Singapore, Ms Janna points out how it is because we see Singapore's food through the lens of social media now, which best captures the blue pea's appeal as an aesthetically pleasing ingredient.
"This humble, local ingredient that is part of our natural heritage is so easy to grow, so why not try it out?"