Ah Eng, you see, was our family cook. At 30, this Chinese-Malaysian generalissimo was the most senior person my family employed at our home in Singapore, so the dubious honor of being chef fell to her. Why? Tradition, said my grandmother. What tradition? Oh, will you be quiet! Though she needed a helping hand or two, the diminutive Ah Eng refused to surrender even a spatula. Those Indonesian girls can't be trusted in the kitchen, she said, referring to our other domestic workers. Those Indonesian girls have never cooked before. Soggy rice, she warned. Food poisoning, she threatened. Gas explosion, she hissed.