Food & Snacks of Singapore- A Cultural Perspective

“Singapore has one of the most vibrant and enduring food cultures!"

This phrase has become an internationally iconic statement when describing Singapore's cultural identity, all around the world.

What is Singaporean cuisine?  It is a culinary fusion of influences from a variety of Asian ethnicities, including Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan, Thai, and Sri Lankan. 

This is true not only for food but snacks included!

Multiculturalism has saturated our local cuisine and a wide array of food and tidbits can be found all through the nation, from conventional hawker stalls to in-vogue shops that consign some unique food to stand out from the crowd. 

When you get a nation that snacks, you get the most unique, and delicious selection of local snacks you can find!

Some say Singaporean food, is all about the flavors...typically, that’s sweet, sour, and spice but with "crossroad flavors" like kaya, rendang, mala, and laksa, there are really no boundaries when it comes to our local snacks. 

The few classic dessert flavors that exist tend to be "kuehs" or puddings and are tapioca, coconut, mung bean, or red bean-based, in the current day usually served in very traditional cutlery for a generous sprinkle of culture.

cultural food

Our diverse cuisine is developed from several ethnic groups that were created through centuries of political, financial, and social changes of this cosmopolitan city-state. 

Influences include the cuisines of the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians as well as Indonesian, Peranakan, and Western traditions. Influences from neighboring regions such as Japan, Korea, and Thailand are also popularly noticed. 

The tropical climate also influences the types of food and snacks prepared, also that our region is surrounded by oceans, seafood flavors are especially welcomed for eg. the particular flavor of fermented fish sauce, shrimp pastes, and seafood pastes reflect the region. 

However, coming from a mixed cultural nation means people have different religions. At events, functions, and parties, Singaporeans are aware of the dietary restrictions of various groups for eg. Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, and there is also a significant group of vegetarians and vegans. People from different communities often eat together, while being extremely respectful of each other's culture and religion.

In Singapore, food has become a part of our national identity and what unifies us culturally to a really large extent. 

As you can see from local restaurants, all the way to little snack shops- eating is a national pastime and a greatly celebrated one. 

Needless to say, food is a frequent topic of conversation among Singaporeans. A common greeting for the Singaporean Chinese is the question "Have you eaten?", asked in the various Chinese dialects- an expression of well-wishes and concern.

During the Lunar New Year, people eat nian gao, which is originally from China and is traditionally eaten around the Chinese New Year

What makes our food different is the story we tell with our food and snacks, the way every dish has a narrative.

We're leaving you this food-for-thought article to reminisce and marvel at our amazing local heritage.

Let's have our food and snack choices stay as diverse as our culture!