Food is the ingredient that binds us

Curry puff

That title was a line from a movie. It wasn’t an interesting story but it got me thinking about all those snippets of information my mum always imparts.

When others argue about the origin of a certain food, she will find connections. When others look at the differences, she sees only similarities.

She’s always telling me these things but I hardly listen, until one day I did and she made some interesting points.

So, why do we fight over food?

We Asians are so passionate about our foods that we can argue until the cow crows like a chicken, but it’s not going to change that we are all at the end, similar.

Availability of comparable ingredients, ancestors from the various countries around us and influences of the same foreign visitors, all translate to a similar palette.

Not too long ago, there was a debate about the origin of a certain dish – a very Asian one that we claimed was ours but our neighbour said it was theirs.

While everyone argued, mum just went “ala, everyone has their own version. Who knows who started it anyway?”

She then gave an example – curry puff or karipap.

Yes, that deep-fried doughy goodness traditionally filled with curried chicken and potatoes.

A Malaysian favourite breakfast, snack, teatime filler, a meal on the go … whenever lah. It’s so flexible it could be one of our national dishes.

Everyone loves curry puff and many families have their recipes with doughs that are either flaky, chewy, puffy, pusing, baked or fried, then filled with potato, curry, sambal, sweet potato, vegetables, sardines or my favourite – spicy coconut.

Then mum mentioned the samosas, which are basically karipap. Yes, the shape is different, but essentially it is the same thing – deep-fried dough filled with curried potato.

She then asked me to Google the Vietnamese version because she couldn’t remember the name and I found Banh Goi – bun-like and normally filled with pork and glass noodles.

As for the Mexicans, they have empanadas –potato and meat-stuffed deep-fried dough. The Russians have Piroshki with the option of meat or non-meat-filled deep-fried dough.

Off the top of her head she already named a few versions of the beloved karipap.

I forgot what else she mentioned but it did affirm two things – one, mum loves food; two, we shouldn’t really argue on the origins because if we dug deep enough, we all have the same roots.

This is especially in Asia where our ancestors moved from one place to the next, and brought with them their food to share with the locals.

Go on, spread the love, and share the fat!

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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