: I think we should just do away with the National Day Parade from now on. All we need to feel together as a people is curry.
I am sure you all heard the story. Family from China wanted to local Indian family to stop cooking curry because they couldn’t stand the smell (of curry lah, don’t think salah). They went to CMC mediators and in the end, the Indian family agreed to only cook curry when the Chinese family was not around.
What started as a simple story of how the mediators helped the two families resolve the issue became a full-blown media circus. At first, some thought the CMC folks came up with the solution and coerced the Indian family into it. Then it turns out the two families came up with the agreement on their own, and the mediators got caught in the outrage crossfire.
Regardless, the public reaction was strong. Some said, “How dare foreigners tell us we can’t cook curry in our own homes?” Others declared, “The Indian family even tried to cook their curry with doors and windows closed!” And others, like me, declared, “Eh, can ask the Indian family for their curry recipe or not?”
Personally, I think the Indian family should have just told the Chinese family a firm, “No, we won’t stop cooking curry.” This thing should not even have gone to mediation. Well, whatever they agreed upon is between themselves.
We live in a multiracial society. Whoever comes to Singapore had better get used to this. And if there is one thing that makes Singaporeans angry, is anyone targeting our FOOD.
Remember how angry we got when some Malaysian minister claimed Hainanese Chicken rice was invented in Malaysia? Next you’ll be telling me Katong Laksa is from Penang.
Nobody messes with our food. We will fight to defend our fellow Singaporeans, regardless of race, when it comes to food.
Sure, this incident risks descending into xenophobia. But I think it has gone beyond that. I think Singaporeans are now more concerned about cooking and eating curry. Any kind of curry. You can see the number of folks signed up for Cook and Share A Pot of Curry day on Facebook.
I signed up too. I cannot resist a good pot of curry. Maybe we can have National Cook and Share A Pot of Curry Day every year. No fireworks necessary. Fireworks in the stomach can already.
The curry incident
Belinda: Oh yes, 21 August 2011 is “Cook a Curry Day”. Seriously, this should be made a national event. No, I’m not unhappy about foreign immigrants but I realized what a fine opportunity it is for us as a nation to bond and blend together, both natives and new citizens. Seriously, Singaporeans never took too much effort to help our new neighbours into their unfamiliar homes. Instead of making them feel at home in this new land, our constant complains on the cultural clashes makes them feel quite alienated. I can’t blame them for displaying hostility sometimes when as host; we don’t play our roles well first. So THIS, is actually an encouraging start.
Perhaps the “curry incident” might have been sparked off due to conflicts but it certainly ended on a happy amiable mood with friends and family coming together to share a pot of good ole curry. However, the foreign media seem to be bewildered by the phenomenon and have taken it with a spicier touch on our curry passion.
Let me share my curry story.
Despite I didn’t cook curry at home that day; I intentionally went out, made it to an Indian stall to tuck in to my favourite Mutton Dam. My sister and friends had a huge curry pot-luck fiesta (and they finished everything so I had no leftovers).
Friends on Facebook were sharing pictures of all their curries-of-the-day, I even made new friends when I buzzed on the “Cook A Pot of Curry” Facebook fan page for recipes!
The distinctive smell of curry will travel up the HDB flat and through my windows whenever there is Malay wedding below. It is then I will know that someone will be getting married under my block the following day. The wonderful smell of curries and briyani never fails to put a smile on my face. That happy neighbour will send invites around the block, and I will see my mum going down the following day to send her best wishes to the newlyweds as everyone settles in with a nice hot plate of briyani with curry. That has always been the way Singaporeans lived. But who will know, if we didn’t tell them?
I remember watching on the news on how one tourist went into an incense shop to buy joss paper as a souvenir despite not knowing what it is. He thought it was interesting that everyone is burning it, and turned to ask the journalist what it is all about. Tourists or new immigrants alike, they come to our land with a different background, some appear curious, some appear cautious, many from homogenous nations. But here in Singapore, we are a melting post of cultures, and have with us a rich heritage with a lot of stories to share. Perhaps instead of widening our cultural gaps with disagreement, these stories can act as a fantastic bridge for relationships. My friend has a Taiwanese sister-in-law who used to hate the smell of durians when she first married here. But today, she can tell the type of durian just by shape and smell! Now, that is what you call a truly, uniquely Singaporean. =)
Finally, I must share this wonderful Chicken Curry equivalent dish from Mainland China. China has 56 different ethnic groups with 56 different cuisines and cultures. This particular dish called “Da Pan Ji” (大盘鸡) or “Big Plate Chicken” is my personal favourite when I resided there as a student. It originated from XinJiang, with influence from the middle-east, is a staple food for many Uighurs. I found this awesome recipe from http://ediblyasian.info/recipes/da-pan-ji-big-plate-chicken-. Try it and let me know if it’s curry enough for you!
Mediators get to mediate, that is to help people come to agreement. If they could judge, then they would be judges. Right?