Recently there were quite number of buzzing articles regarding the food fight between Malaysia and Singapore. I grew tired of this; thinking that we were fighting over small matter.
These people who were writing about this food fight are mostly dumb when it comes to history. They should read more and watch more TV. For instant, watch Planet Food. You'll see similarities and differences when you watch Planet Food - Malaysia (the one with Merilees Parker) and Planet Food - Singapore (the one with I-don't-know-who-is-she-but-she-is-a-boring-host). These two personnels were searching mostly street food in the programmes. The cuisines were almost the same, but the recipes and approaches were a bit different.
Singapore used to be part of this country, therefore it was not so surprising that we might have the conflict of originality when it came to certain old school cuisines like nasi lemak and several more dishes.
Take my family for example. My grandma's sibling (Wan Angah) is a Singaporean and we have Singaporean relatives (though I am authentically from Negeri Sembilan).The way they cook raya food might be slightly different as much as it is slightly similar. The reason being is that our biological connection creates the similarity, but the demographic and other influences might change the recipe a bit. Therefore, since the same menu cooked in a different pots from two different countries, the menu will instantly called the Malaysian or Singaporean version.
Regardless, both Wan Angah and my own Wan were coming from the same womb:)
Just like the water comes from the same river:P
I am relief,however, to see that Gulai/Masak Lemak Cili Api from my kampung was not claimed to be any of Singaporian dishes. However, I still need to relate the gulai with the natives in Indonesia, considering that based on history the Negeri Sembilan people were the ones from Pagar Ruyung. (same goes to other states which are practising Adat Temenggung - the clan Jawa, Bugis and Banjar are not the native clan).
Based on research (by checking with the Minangkabau who came out with Nasi Padang), the Negeri Sembilan gulai/masak lemak cili api and the minangkabau gulai are different in terms of certain ingredients. I believe the migration has changed the ingredients and methods even though the roots were almost the same.
We are talking about a bigger picture between Singapore and Malaysia. How about interstate? Or between districts? I'll talk about something I'm familiar with. Rendang in Kuala Pilah and Rendang in Rembau will be different in terms of the ingredients, the looks and the taste. It appears similar but different in certain ways. Rendang Tok looks almost the same like Rendang Itam but it will still be different. Who is going to claim that rendang in general is theirs must be a very stupid person. Because in the end rendang is rendang. We just have different versions of it because we cook it from different pots.
In the end, it was the Monsun Barat Daya and Monsun Timur Laut (the ones we learned in Geography!!!) which brought most of us here. If it was not because of the wind,neither the Indian, Chinese or whomever who called themselves Peranakan won't be here - either in Malaysia or Singapore. I can't see the point of patterning, claiming ownership for something which is going to look almost similar when we flush it down from the bowels to the toilet bowls.
I learned today that one good thing about a tradition is you can create a new one:)
It's whether your marketing campaign is working - whether you have a Gourmet Festival or you call Daniel Boloud for a Night in Singapore.
The menu is almost similar but the presentation must capture the eater's heart. Most importantly, things must not be "indah khabar dari rupa."
In Spain, they have a food fight festival which they called La Tomatina. They throw tomatoes which are coming from Extremadura, where the tomatoes are less expensive and are grown specifically for the festival as they are not of good taste for consumption. A night before that, they ate paella, a dish which I longed to try since I first watched Planet Food - Spain. (see how good the campaign is?)
So, the Spaniards got the tomatoes to throw. What do we have to throw?
I throw nasi lemak over to my Wan Angah.
My father throws nasi ayam to his cousin.
My brother Shahmi throws Bak Kut Teh to his Singapore friends.
or YOU throwing sambal belacan, budu, tempoyak!!!!
It'll be disgusting.
You want a food fight?
I'd rather give my nasi lemak supplies to people in Padang.
Regardless how much I hate the people who said, "ganyang Malaysia or called me Maling Sia."
This is not La Tomatina.
We don't play with food.
* Anyone can translate what they wrote in the newspaper? I want to learn how to speak Spanish so that I can send a letter to Torres. Mi amor!!!!