Food Fight – Clash of the Titans?October 3, 2009 | 2,902 views
Back in our childhood days, we used to fight over petty matters. We would scramble for the last piece of candy, proclaiming war over trivial objects (pencil box fights, anyone?), and proudly claiming ‘patent’ over our very own, erm, creations (crayon-painted landscapes that reminded one of Picasso’s masterpieces?).
And to think that we all matured with time. Bah ….. The current fiasco surrounding the ‘Food Fight’ between two neighbouring countries had me sniggering no less, a strong reminder of our past when quarrels over who-owns-what was prominent.
I’m a food blogger from Malaysia, but I’m on the fence on this issue raised by our very own Tourism Minister. With no intentions to disgrace my country, nor putting down Singapore, let me share my two cents’ worth here.
You see, Singapore’s really aggressive (and no doubt efficient) at branding their products, with heavy publicity, and constant promotion to the world. This kind of explains why there are way more food-related shows from our neighbouring country in comparison to the mere handful of local productions.
Chilli crabs and Hainan Chicken Rice are two such dishes that are almost synonymous with Singaporean cuisine. Not to say we can’t find them here in Malaysia, but what Singapore had been routinely practising is targeted promotion; heavily publicizing one method of cooking the crabs, whereas in Malaysia, we have many interpretations, eg. Butter Crabs, Salt-baked Crabs, Steamed Crabs, etc. Literally translated to a lack of identity, as we seldom hear people talking about Malaysian Chilli Crabs on the streets.
What we fail to notice is that, Singapore WAS in fact, a part of Malaysia. Hence it’s not a big deal if both countries share most of the signature dishes. Another point I’d like to draw your attention to is; we in Malaysia are proud to have a wide array of cuisines, with influences from all over. But branding-wise, we falter rather miserably. Take for example Laksa. We have Sarawak Laksa, Penang Assam Laksa, Johor Laksa, and the southern states refer to their curry noodles as Laksa. Now imagine a foreigner coming over to Malaysia expecting a “Malaysian Laksa” but was instead presented with so many different varieties. Confusing? Yes. Identity crisis, even. But it’s the myriad of cuisines from the combined 13 states and 2 federal territories, encompassing flavours from the East Malaysia as well as the multiple variations available in the peninsular, that makes Malaysian cuisine so special; almost incomparable.
From – Serai Sate Kajang in Ipoh
There really should NOT be a “food fight” in the first place. Food is meant to bring people together, speaking a universal language, satisfying the gluttons in each and every one of us. It is definitely not a subject to be debated on, as to whether a certain dish belongs to a country or another. Malaysia should be proud of what we currently have, and instead work to promote the many other dishes, before other countries start to lay claims and work their way up the retribution page.
(This article was featured in BlogTV.sg, a Singaporean web portal. Here’s the link to the original article : Malaysian food blogger J2Kfm thinks cuisines is shared, but S’pore is just better at branding)