Thursday, August 16, 2018

Malaysia's Gastronomy

OK, curry laksa made the #2 spot. While all Malaysians are happy to get the silver medal out of all the food experiences in the world... sort of like the Olympics of gastronomy, I think I can speak for everyone that "hey, there are other dishes from Malaysia that would have beaten the shit out of curry laksa".

The book is bound to be a bestseller with a number of notable and well-traveled chefs coupled with votes by the many Lonely Planet staffers around the globe, thus lending more credence to the compilation.

You cannot do such a compilation without it being argued and debated vigorously. Taste is so subjective but I do believe there is a distinctive tastiness curve globally. As more and more people travel, the world gets a lot smaller, in a good way.

I have often shied away from proclaiming Malaysian food is de best when I young. However the more I travel, the more I find that many local dishes are pretty excellent. Maybe its the amalgamation of a few distinctive, yet meshable cultures, a fusion pot that does not bring fusion to be a bad or distilled word that we associate with most of the time. 

In the book of 500... Malaysia had 11 entries. That's slightly more than 2%. There are 195 countries in the world. By right each country should only have 2.56 of entries in the book. Even if we whittle the number of comparative countries to 100, it should be just 5 entries per country. So we are punching way above our weight (pardon the pun).

Have a look at the other local entries. Again, all Malaysians would have a gala time debating the correct order. What was even more alarming to us was the OMMISSIONS from list. One thing for sure, the Singaporeans will be claiming that half the dishes belong to them, go fly wau la.

1. Ikan bakar (No. 60)
2. Assam laksa (No. 123)
3. Beef rendang (No. 268)
4. Wantan mee (No. 299)
5. Kaya toast (No. 352)
6. Roti canai (No. 404)
7. Char kway teow (No. 432)
8. Durian (No. 445)

9. Hokkien mee (No. 464)
10. Bak kut teh (No. 468)

Looking at the top 20 list, it was obvious that Lonely Planet wanted to be inclusive so as to offend fewer people and sell more books. Each of the 20 entries was from a different country.

Its close to an abomination that the following dishes did not make the list:
nasi lemak
apom balik
sarawak laksa
prawn mee

All said, we can tell tourists that if you came for the 11 dishes, we have probably another 11 (and more) which are even better.


1 Pintxos in San Sebastián
2 Curry laksa in Kuala Lumpur
3 Sushi in Tokyo
4 Beef brisket in Texas
5 Som tum in Bangkok
6 Smørrebrød in Copenhagen
7 Crayfish in Kaikoura
8 Bibimbap in Seoul
9 Pizza margherita in Naples
10 Dim sum in Hong Kong 
11 Ceviche in Lima
12 Pastéis de nata in Lisbon
13 Oysters in Tasmania
14 Cheese in France
15 Jerk chicken in Jamaica
16 Lamb tagine in Marrakech
17 Chilli crab in Singapore
18 Moules frites in Brussels
19 Peking duck in Beijing
20 Pho along the Hau River in Vietnam 

1 comment:

Emily said...

Good wanton mee is hard to find nowadays. Can anyone recommend a good place?

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