Yes, we've all heard stories about the Singaporean's 24-hour passion for food. We've also seen the bemused visitor's look as he watches a slender young thing tuck into a hearty multiple-dish meal at 2am. And of course, there is that famous Singapore greeting. Instead of echoing the almost universal 'Hi, how are you?', we say 'Have you eaten?', and we say it in our different languages and dialects.
But one word which we all understand and love is makan which is the Malay word for 'eat'.
Look at it our way:
Imagine if you lived on an island that lay at the crossroads of the great East-West trade routes. Then remember that the products traded in those early days were as tantalizing and valuable as ivory, gold, silk, batik, silver thread, ebony, sandalwood, tea, sago, sugar, pepper, nutmeg, cloves and coriander. And that your fellow citizens, right from those days, made up a colourful and diverse melting pot of races and cultures.
Now just imagine, if you put it all together, what a fascinating, exciting cuisine Singapore must surely boast. It is the stuff of romance,and tales of recipes handed down through generations of craftsmen and migrant workers, often from villages in China and India.
Singapore food is a tasty tale about a country's unique cultural tapestry, and the way individual strands have woven into others,and changed hue in the process. Food preparations that came to Singapore from India, China and other countries in the region may still bear the original names - but they are indelibly transformed by being 'Singaporeanised'.
To Singapore's cultural tapestry, add the country's compactness, and a great transport system which makes getting around it so convenient. Finally,add Singapore's uncommonly strict public hygiene and food preparation rules,which make eating out - anywhere on the island - a risk-free proposition.
What do you get? An island which has evolved - naturally - its own unique cuisine,which its people passionately and safely indulge in. And you can too! Come join us!
"Singapore food reflects the very best of our multicultural island, where cuisines and flavours have influenced one another for decades, with wonderful results! For me, local food is very much a part of the word 'home'."
- Prof Tommy Koh
Ambassador-At-Large for Singapore
"From chilli crab to chicken rice, Singapore food celebrates our rich diversity -- a melting pot of colours, textures, tastes and aromas that bind us, regardless of class, race, language or religion."
- Carolyn Tay
Marketing Communications Practitioner, Singapore
Singapore's desserts are even more colourful - literally - than its main courses. They're hot or cold, sticky or clear, wobbly or firm, healthy or sinful.
Singapore's coffee and tea (known as kopi and teh respectively) stalls have come a long way. In the early days, they'd serve the basic combinations of tea with milk and sugar, tea with sugar only (teh-O), tea with milk and no sugar (teh kosong), tea with evaporated milk (teh si) and so on.
Toward the end of the 19th century / early 20th, there were Chinese traders who settled in Malacca, Penang and later, in Singapore. Because there was a shortage of Chinese women, many of these men married Malay women, and this led to the creation of a community cal led the Straits Chinese (Peranakan) where the men are known as 'Babas' and the womenfolk, 'Nonyas'.
Singapore's unique cultural tapestry means that this is the place for cultural festivals, all year round. And because all these festivals are native to Singapore, there is increasingly a tendency for everyone to celebrate (in some manner or form) every festival!