The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) published an article yesterday (29 May) titled “As Singapore identity shifts, its food culture becomes key touchstone”. The article said:
“About seven years ago, Leslie Tay, a Singaporean food blogger, began to notice that the city’s older food vendors were retiring – and with them were disappearing some of his favorite dishes.
A perfect char kway teow, a stir-fried Malay noodle dish, was becoming difficult to find at Singapore’s famous open-air food courts. So too was handmade muah chee, the steamed rice-flour dumplings coated in peanuts and sugar originally from southern China.”
Can you spot the error in the paragraph above? If you love food that is uniquely Singapore, you would.
If can’t, this is it: “…char kway teow, a stir-fried Malay noodle dish…”
If the writer had done some some research, she would have found out that “Char kway teow (炒粿条; chao guo tiao in Mandarin) is a dish of flat rice noodles and tubular yellow wheat noodles fried in garlic, sweet soya sauce and lard, with ingredients such as egg, Chinese waxed sausage, fishcake, beansprouts and cockles.” And that “some regard the use of lard as an essential ingredient in producing the authentic taste of char kway teow.”
Not only is char kway teow a Chinese noodle dish, not a Malay one, but because lard (pig fat) is an essential ingredient in the dish, Malays who are mainly Muslims cannot eat the dish because it is not halal.
The mistake might not be so glaring if it was not a discussion about preserving Singapore’s celebrated food culture.
The article is written by Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, a Mumbai-based correspondent of CSM. That she is not Singaporean could be the reason why she did not realise that Char Kway Teow is not a Malay dish.
Knowing that local food is a touchy topic for Singaporeans, Yahoo Singapore should have better fact-checked before syndicating the article.