People would assume that being of the same race, albeit of neighbouring countries, Malaysians and Singaporean Malays would share the same kinds of food. I mean, we were together just 50 years ago, how different can we be?
Well, after a year of being here, in the melting pot of culture that is Australia, I was pleasantly surprised at how uninformed I was. It was nearing Hari Raya, or Eidul Fitr, a joyous occasion of good feasting and feelings of gratitude after a whole month of fasting. I didn’t go back home for the summer, so I prepared for and celebrated the day with several of my Malaysian friends.
“Hey, let’s make some Mee Siam!” I said excitedly. “And maybe some cornflake meringues?”
My excitement was only met with confusion. They had no idea what “Mee Siam” or “cornflake meringues” were. We proceeded to Google them, and soon we find ourselves looking at foods we eat, love, do not have in common, or call by different names! Here are some examples:
Puteri Salat vs. Kuih Serimuka
Roti Kirai vs. Roti Jala
Epok-epok vs. Karipap (or curry puff)
“Epok-epok is not karipap; karipap is triangular and are made of flaky pastry!”
“Do you mean samosa?”
Kuih Dadar vs. Kuih Ketayap
Kuih Tako vs. Kuih Tepung Pelita
They have also never tried “Mee Kuah”, among several other ‘uniquely Singaporean’ dishes, but it was not until recently did I try their “Nasi Kerabu” and “Buttermilk chicken”, so it was totally understandable that they’ve never had or heard of those Singaporean dishes.
At the end of the day, we were exhausted and hungry but definitely fascinated. Who would’ve thought that two groups of people with seemingly similar cultures could be so different? In the end, we made one thing that we both know and definitely share a love of – honey cornflakes! At least that’s something we both agree on – finally.