Like many Singaporean children in my childhood, I was brought up constantly hearing from grown-ups that certain food is hot or cold for the body. Of course, it shot straight through the other ear. Furthermore, most of us took it as the "Oliverian's way" of stopping us from asking for an another serve of our favourite tucker. No, it is not about the food being served hot or cold but rather they are thought to have cooling properties, while others have warm properties.
This ancient philosophy of hot and cold food lies in the hearts of most Singaporeans culture even today. It is common to hear amongst Singaporeans, a sore throat is caused by consuming too many spicy (hot) foods. Instead of taking a panadol, a long list of prescription for herbal teas to cool the body is often given with good intent by loved ones. Similarly, coughs or flu are more likely to be treated with dietary changes than antibiotics or cough medicines from the local general practitioner. I can remember a bitter "niang teh" (herbal tea) was mother's thoughtful way of preparing us to combat both heat and cold. She firmly believed that we needed the weekly niang teh that would make us perspire and rid us of all evil sickness! I often now wonder, whether she was striking a balance of yin and yang in her cooking and also mainly to revolve around the challenge of serving a diet that contains a healthy balance between the two.