Singapore Noodles is “a cross-cultural mutated freak of nature”

Singapore Noodles is popular, but whether it is Asian, fusion, or a cross-cultural mutated freak of nature, no one knows for sure. With little information to offer, the media place their bets on this mystery. They get away with such shoddy journalism, partly because the noodles needs little introduction. Anyone who has lived in Hong Kong, or has depended on take-outs in the UK, the US, and Australia, is no stranger to the bright yellow, curry-laden noodles.

But when studied all together, the print, television (online), and blogs paints a telling picture of the dish. I analyse key phrases in the first 80 Singapore Noodles recipes that Google generates based on the keywords “Singapore noodles recipe,” and here is what I found:

Popular in the West, Except Hong Kong

The media say it’s “famous” and “popular,” but is careful to set the scope within which this statement holds water. Hong Kong stands out as the only Asian city where Singapore Noodles is said to be prevalent. Whether it is Hong Kong or Australia, such specifications suggest that the writers, and possibly the men in the street of each city, are unaware of their common love for the noodles.

The media also tend to specify the food categories — Chinese take-out or Chinese American restaurants— under which this dish is a favourite, hinting at a different assessment should it be taken out of its usual contexts.

A Non-Local, But A Classic Everywhere

How a dish of unclear origins become a classic to various cultures across the globe demands investigation. This is different from becoming ubiquitous, as merely being accessible to consumers does not guarantee itself a long-term spot in the menu.

A Cultural Orphan 

The internet cannot agree on whether Singapore Noodles is Asian, fusion, or just convenience.

A Malleable History Wins Acceptance

Could its murky origins free it for imaginations regarding its histories, thus, everyone in everywhere can claim it their own?

Some media dramatise the mystery to generate interest in their stories. This tactic seem to work, partly because Singapore Noodles is already familiar to many. Little convincing is needed to sell its recipes.

Others exoticise the dish. Even then it isn’t attributed to a certain community, and is loosely categorised as “oriental.”

Glocalising with Curry

There is no doubt that curry powder is most significant in Singapore Noodles, but it has been neglected as an evidence of localisation. Depending on where they’re from, the media disagree on the type of curry that makes the most “authentic” Singapore Noodles. If each curry is true to their own culture, isn’t the British-style noodles as legitimate as its Malaysian counterpart?

This story is a part of my research about Singapore Noodles’s origins and how it has impacted the lives of those who eat it and also those whose identities it has been associated with. Other related stories can be found here.

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