Chicken backsides got Abigail Chay compiling local remedies
Broken heart inspires entertainer to compile local remedy book
A bad break-up sent local entertainer Abigail Chay reaching for her favourite comfort food - fried chicken backsides.
It had an unexpected benefit apart from soothing her heart: Great skin.
Chay, 56, found out that the often-discarded chicken part was a traditional remedy to give you good skin.
She became so taken with folkloric wisdom that she and her friends started a project to compile the wise sayings of the elderly.
Over the course of a year, she and fellow compiler, emcee Roger Poon, interviewed 500 people on their natural solutions to common problems.
They even got SG50 funding for the book.
Chay told The New Paper: "A lot of the things that I know have been passed down to me by my elders.
"This book will make sure these remedies are shared with everyone to ensure that the wise words of our ancestors would not be lost."
The comedienne, who is well known to have had a sex change, spoke about the break-up.
She said: "My then-boyfriend and I were talking about marriage when his parents raised objections. They could not accept a daughter-in-law who had undergone a sex change.
"My boyfriend could not defy his parents and I did not want him to either. He broke up with me and I was shattered."
She added: "My parents also made it clear to me that if I ever dated a man whose parents objected to me, I had to bow out of the relationship.
"I bear no resentment towards anyone as I can understand how they feel, once I put myself in their shoes."
Chay, who met her then-boyfriend through mutual friends in 2001, said she was devastated at being alone again.
"I lost quite a bit of weight and since I was skinny to begin with, I looked very haggard and bad.
"I have always loved to eat chicken backside since I was young, so I turned to it as my comfort food. I ate around 12 chicken backsides per time a few times a week.
"It really surprised me when I started to look better. Looking better gave me more confidence and I started to feel better about myself."
According to a 2012 study by the Nutrition And Dietary Studies Of America, the chicken's posterior is a nutritional powerhouse.
Compared with chicken breast, which provides 8 per cent iron and 2 per cent calcium, a chicken's backside contains nearly 11 per cent iron and 8 per cent calcium.
Chay, who is single, said: "Chicken backsides may not be for everyone as they are high in fat content. But this food really helped me during that terrible time.
"I hope that all the natural remedies found in the book will help people in some way or another."
Singapore Remedies will be sold at the atrium at Chinatown Point from Jan 14 to Feb 7.
This book will make sure these remedies are shared with everyone to ensure that the wise words of our ancestors would not be lost.
- Abigail Chay on Singapore Remedies
In Singapore Remedies, Singaporeans share natural solutions to common problems. Here are some examples.
HOW TO CATCH COCKROACHES
Irene Tan, 53
"Prepare a mixture of dishwashing detergent and water in a spray bottle. Aim and spray at cockroaches. This will slow them down, allowing easy capture."
HOW TO CATCH FLYING INSECTS
Lim Sew Yong, 72
"Coat your hands with soap solution and use them to trap flying mosquitoes and other irritating bugs. The success rate of catching mosquitoes will be higher than trying to use your bare hands to catch these insects."
HOW TO PREVENT CLAYPOTS FROM CRACKING
Lena Lee Siew Hwa, 58
"My mother-in-law taught me that to prevent a newly-bought claypot from cracking easily, soak the claypot in water overnight before cooking porridge in the claypot. Leave the porridge and rice water in the claypot for a day."
HOW TO UNCLOG A SINK
Loo Geok Song, 67
"Use a drinking straw and poke it into the choked sink. Turn the straw in one direction a few times. Choked items will be dislodged."
HOW TO FIND OUT IF EGGS ARE FRESH
Tay Swee Lian, 85
"If you are not sure how fresh your eggs are, place them in four inches (10cm) of water. Eggs that stay on the bottom are fresh. If one of the eggs stands up, that egg is less fresh and should be used soon. If an egg floats, it has already gone bad and should be discarded."
HOW TO REMOVE STAINS FROM CLOTHES
Lim Swee Choo, 74
"Mix the following in a bottle and let it sit for three months: 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1½ cup of lemon and orange peel and 1 litre of water. This bottle of natural cleanser can effectively remove stains."
PHOTOS: ST, TNP FILE, SINGAPORE REMEDIES
HOW TO REMOVE OIL FROM UTENSILS
Lee Kuai Choo, 78
"Using lemon or lime to remove oil from utensils involves cutting it into half. Take each half and rub it on the oily parts of the kitchen utensils. Also, squeeze the juice onto the oily surfaces."
Most of the elderly folk The New Paper spoke to said the natural remedies they shared in the book were passed down to them from their parents or grandparents.
Madam Lee Kuai Choo, 78, learnt how to clean oily utensils with lemon juice when she was a teen learning to cook from her mother.
She said: "We did not have much, but we made do with what we had."
Madam Loo Geok Song, 67, said she found a straw when she was looking for something long and thin to unclog a sink.
However, she called this solution "common sense".
She said: "Many natural remedies are actually common sense.
"However (because of all the man-made solutions these days), many of us may have forgotten to think about using them."
Madam Asnah Kassion, 70, who shared the tip of using rice water for facials, said it reminds of her late mother, who introduced her to the benefits of rice water.
She said: "Natural remedies are usually passed down by parents. We tend to remember them better."