Singaporean cuisine is indicative of the ethnic diversity of the culture of Singapore which originated from Malaysia, as a product of centuries of cultural interaction owing to Singapore’s strategic location. The food is influenced by the native Malay, the predominant Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan, and Western traditions (particularly English and some Portuguese-influenced Eurasian, known as Kristang) since the founding of Singapore by the British in the nineteenth century. Influences from other areas such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, and the Middle East exist in local food culture as well. In Singaporean hawker stalls, for example, chefs of Chinese background influenced by Indian culture might experiment with condiments and ingredients such as tamarind, turmeric, and ghee, while an Indian chef might serve a fried noodle dish. With a variety of influences from different countries, it is suffice to note that the globalization phenomenon affects the cuisine in Singapore as well.
This globalization phenomenon on the cuisine of Singapore proves to be a significant cultural attraction. Most prepared food is eaten outside the home at hawker centres or food courts, examples of which include Lau Pa Sat and Newton Food Centre, rather than at restaurants. This is because such Singaporean hawker stalls include a huge variety of cuisines, ranging from Malay food, to Thai, Indian, Western, Korean, Japanese and even Vietnamese food. These hawker centres are abundant and cheap, hence encouraging a large consumer base.
In Singapore, food is viewed as crucial to national identity and a unifying cultural thread, Singaporean literature declares eating as a national pastime and food, a national obsession. Food is a frequent topic of conversation among Singaporeans. Religious dietary strictures do exist; Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, and there is also a significant group of vegetarians. People from different communities often eat together, while being mindful of each other’s culture and choose food that is acceptable to all. There are also some halal restaurants catering to Muslim dietary preferences.
Singaporean cuisine has been promoted as an attraction for tourists by the Singapore Tourism Board, as a major attraction alongside its shopping. The government organises the Singapore Food Festival in July to celebrate Singapore’s cuisine. The multiculturalism of local food, the ready availability of international cuisine and styles, and their wide range in prices to fit all budgets at all times of the day and year helps create a “food paradise”. In addition, the Overseas Singaporean Unit organizes Singapore Day as a platform for Singaporeans who are overseas to come together as one.During the event, local Singaporean hawker food will be prepared for the overseas Singaporean to enjoy.
As Singapore is a small country with a high population density, land is a scarce resource devoted to industrial and housing purposes. Most produce and food ingredients are imported, although there is a small group of local farmers who produce some leafy vegetables, fruit, poultry, and fish. Singapore’s geographical position connects it to major air and sea transport routes and thus allows it to import a variety of food ingredients from around the world, including costly seafood items such as salmon from Norway.