Last Updated: September 16, 2020
Using hawker food to celebrate diversity? That’s probably one of the best ways to appeal to Singaporeans over diversity and civil rights.
Hawker Heritage: Histories Behind Singapore’s Hawker Food is an art project by designer Teo Yu Siang that illuminates the nuanced and multicultural influences behind some of our favourite dishes in Singapore. Now largely considered “local”, these dishes are amalgamations of multiple languages, cuisines and ingredients from all around the world.
Using graphic illustrations that are both informative and attractive, each entry in this project outlines the geographical, etymological and cultural backgrounds of a popular dish.
For example, the name ‘Roti John’ (a French loaf stuffed with minced meat, onion, egg and tomato chilli sauce) is derived from the Hindi, Tamil, Malay and English languages. There’s even a quaint story behind its creation.
Teo Yu Siang’s Hawker Heritage: Histories Behind Singapore’s Hawker Food forcefully drives home the selective tendencies in Singaporeans’ celebration of diversity. While we embrace diversity in hawker food, we starkly ‘stay silent when people of different colours, sexual orientations, gender expressions, and gender identities are discriminated against’.
The food illustrations alone can get one hungry. Teo’s project scrutinises how diversity in food can be so palatable against a dissonant indifference to racial, sexual and gender diversity in Singapore. Let’s not stop at romanticising hawker culture. Just as there’s a lot of labour in keeping hawker culture alive, so is there a need for determination to accept identity differences.
Date & Time: Find out more about Hawker Heritage: Histories Behind Singapore’s Hawker Food here and on Facebook | To see more of Teo’s work, check out his website for his scintillating takes on presidential elections, typography, and MRT trains