Do you have childhood memories of eating your favourite food? Or how you eagerly anticipate the end of your holiday meal with your grandmother’s dodol, nian gao or coconut candy? How mom made your favourite nasi lemak or fried noodles extra special during the weekends?
Culturally, food is very important. Food can be nostalgic and provides connections to our family or country. Like the expression; “to break bread with someone, “food can be a bridge that brings people of different cultures together.
A potluck party is a great place to bridge people of different cultures together. Plus, it’s a great place to sample dishes from their culture too. For example, Malays can bring food like ayam percik, gulai, curry, asam pedas, keropok lekor, soto or their kuih muih. Signature Chinese dishes like sweet sour chicken, kung pao chicken, wonton, spring rolls, lemon fish and fried noodles make great potluck dishes. And many would love to sample some butter chicken, palak paneer, tandoori chicken and some masala chai from their Indian friends. Vegetarians, how about some delicious tofu and stir-fried vegetables?
It is also wonderful to see people of different races sitting together at restaurants enjoying their meals. For instance, you see a diverse of races sitting down at a mamak stall indulging on their favourite roti canai, rojak or mee rebus. Or many who queue for their favourite nasi lemak daily. Malaysians’ love for food is undeniable and it also strengthens the bond with one another.
Food brings different ethnic communities together and better appreciation of the different culinary practices and traditions which have been passed down for generations. We should embrace our heritage through our culture’s food but we should also try food from other cultures. It’s important to remember that each dish has a special place in that culture and is special to the person who prepared it. Food is a portal to culture and it should be treated as such.