Thursday, May 13, 2010
40 Singapore Foods We Can't Live Without
Here is a compilation of 40 favourite local foods I did for CNNgo.com. Some of you may have already seen this, since it was published last month, and also shows up on the Yahoo Travel portal. I don't know why I didn't think of sharing this here earlier.
Forty dishes may seem like a lot. But I had still difficulty keeping it to only that and choosing which ones to include, because there are really just so many dishes we love on this little island. Even harder was the task of singling out just one eatery for each dish.
I just saw yesterday that there are some heated arguments going on in the comments section, some quite intelligently written too. A few readers griped that these dishes are not "UNIQUELY SINGAPORE" foods or not invented here (oh no, please, not the Singapore-Malaysia food war again). Others correctly chimed in that it would be ridiculous to feature only Singapore inventions, and that this is simply a list celebrating foods here that we love.
Well, if there's anything I was reminded of while putting this article together, it's that Singapore is such a melting pot, and our food is one big ROJAK party, and I don't mean the rojak dish. Really, nothing is original or true to its original form anymore. You can't stop cross-cultural influences seeping into cuisines. You have Chinese making curries, nasi lemak, and sambal BBQs; Malays selling sushi, chicken rice and prata; and so on. Sometimes they come up with something better, sometimes not.
I also did not have time nor space (the article is already 4,500 words, and kudos to you if you actually read the whole thing) to delve into the details of variants of each dish, such as the infamous difference between Cantonese and Hainanese chicken rice (that alone is a separate thesis I am not even qualified to touch on!). Some of these variants have also become mixed up as hawkers try this and that. I don't know what else will come out because these days we even have Bangladeshi workers frying char kway teow at hawker centres. Fun, eh?
Anyway, CNNgo.com is CNN's travel destination site, so the article is aimed primarily at visitors to Singapore and perhaps residents who have newly arrived. What's surprised me is how locals have also taken to the list. I hear of people copying the content onto Word documents to email to friends for offline reference.
You can read the full 40 Singapore Foods article here. I am sure there are things you will agree or disagree with, because we all like different things. This article is part of a country series on 40 beloved foods. There's similarly a "40 Hong Kong Foods We Can't Do Without", 40 Tokyo Foods and 40 Thai Foods. Enjoy.