EDI­TOR’S NOTE

Epicure - - CONTENTS - Ade­line Wong Manag­ing Edi­tor We love to hear your feed­back. ade­[email protected] in­sta­gram.com/ade­linewongcy

One of my favourite week­end meals to cook at home is a fu­sion pasta adapted from chef Willin Low’s Sin­ga­pore Pesto recipe. The Ital­ian el­e­ments are spaghetti and olive oil, but the rest of the in­gre­di­ents are as Asian as they come: can­dlenuts, basil leaves, bird’s eye chill­ies, dried shrimps and curry leaves. It’s an easy task blend­ing th­ese Asian in­gre­di­ents in a food pro­ces­sor un­til you get a thick, fra­grant paste. It’s aro­mat­i­cally de­li­cious with Chi­nese gin­ger chicken too. Ital­ian food purists will prob­a­bly scoff at this ren­di­tion, but there’s no doubt that this dish is an umami bomb, and taste is al­ways the end re­sult I seek.

In re­cent years, culi­nary au­then­tic­ity has be­come an in­creas­ingly fer­vent cause as more chefs es­chew the bells and whis­tles of molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy in favour of a re­turn to their own roots, thereby re­dis­cov­er­ing and pre­serv­ing trea­sured fam­ily recipes and the sto­ries around them. While sav­ing culi­nary her­itage is im­por­tant – and we should con­tinue to sup­port it - stress­ing au­then­tic­ity over flavour in­no­va­tion can re­strict the band­width of a cui­sine.

To cer­tain coun­tries, culi­nary au­then­tic­ity re­quires pro­tec­tion through le­gal means. In Malaysia, the Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources has made a bold move, an­nounc­ing that “or­di­nary lo­cal food” out­lets can only hire lo­cal cooks, blur­ring the thin line be­tween na­tional pride and culi­nary racism. Must a na­tion’s cui­sine be pre­pared by lo­cals to be deemed au­then­tic? If it is so, David Thomp­son would not have be­come one of the stan­dard bear­ers of Thai food due to his Aus­tralian na­tion­al­ity (This is the chef who el­e­vated Nahm to great heights.) Sin­ga­porean chef Ja­son Tan of one Miche­lin-starred Cor­ner House would not have been able to fly the flag for French cui­sine. Rick Bay­less, “a white guy from Ok­la­homa”, would not have be­come an am­bas­sador of Mex­i­can food.

Food has al­ways been shaped by a confluence of cul­tures and ideas. Peru­vian cui­sine is a good ex­am­ple; chifa and ce­viche are a re­sult of Chi­nese and Ja­panese in­flu­ences. Delve into our child­hood archives and there are def­i­nitely recipes that have been adapted from gen­er­a­tions be­fore. New ver­sions will arise, which will be re­garded by fu­ture gen­er­a­tions as au­then­tic. Chefs and home cooks will con­tinue to add their spin to ‘orig­i­nal ‘recipes. What’s per­haps more fruit­ful are our ef­forts to discover and pre­serve fast fad­ing in­dige­nous in­gre­di­ents in­stead of fix­at­ing on who gets to rep­re­sent a par­tic­u­lar cui­sine.

Our cover story this month was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with chef Ivan Yeo of 1925 Mi­cro­brew­ery.

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