Fancy a bowl of heritage soup?

That's laksa, of course. Some folk in Malaysia may be sizzling over Singapore's hawker Unesco heritage bid, but in the end, it's all about protecting a community legacy that's a taste of home, wherever you are.

Eating out in Singapore. We recognise a part of ourselves when we find our hawker dishes on a menu in a foreign country, as hawker food is endemic to Singaporean daily life.
Eating out in Singapore. We recognise a part of ourselves when we find our hawker dishes on a menu in a foreign country, as hawker food is endemic to Singaporean daily life.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Some Malaysian hawkers and chefs are unhappy that Singapore wants to have its hawker culture recognised in the Unesco list of intangible heritage. Chef Wan, a popular Malaysian chef, commented on the proposal: "People who lack confidence in their food will go all out to do these things for recognition."

Such "roasting" is not new - back in 2009, then Malaysian Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen told the press that Hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab, nasi lemak, bak kut teh and laksa were Malaysian dishes that had been "hijacked" by other countries.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 07, 2018, with the headline 'Fancy a bowl of heritage soup?'. Subscribe