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The cuisine of Singapore is often viewed by people as a prime example of the ethnic diversity of the culture of Singapore. The food is heavily influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and even Western traditions since the founding of Singapore by the British in the 1800s. The cuisine of Singapore is said to be similar to the diverse cuisine of Penang, Malaysia, as most of the foods in Singapore can also be found in the state of Penang. In Singaporean hawker stores, for example, chefs of Chinese ethnic background influenced by Indian culture might experiment with condiments and ingredients such as tamarind, turmeric and ghee, while a Tamil chef might serve a fried noodle dish.

This phenomenon makes the cuisine of Singapore significantly rich and a cultural attraction. Most of the prepared food bought outside home is eaten at hawker centres or food courts, examples of which include Lau Pa Sat and Newton Food Centre, rather than at actual restaurants. These hawker centres are relatively abundant which leads to low prices; hence, encouraging a large consumer base.

Because it is often viewed by her population as central to Singapore’s national identity and a unifying cultural thread, Singaporean literature often declares eating as a national pastime and food, a national obsession. Food is a frequent topic of conversation among Singaporeans who like to comment on the food they have eaten and the eateries around the country. There are some religious dietary strictures as Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef; there is also a significant group of vegetarians. Nevertheless, 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 Chinese restaurants that prepare Chinese food in a way that conform to Muslim dietary preference.

Food in itself has been heavily promoted as an attraction for tourists. It is usually promoted by various initiatives undertaken by the Singapore Tourism Board or the associations it deals with as one of Singapore’s best attractions alongside its shopping. The government organises the Singapore Food Festival in July annually 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” to rival other contenders claiming the same moniker. The availability of a variety of food is often aided by the fact that Singapore’s port lies along strategic routes. Contrary to popular belief in the West, the dish “Singapore noodles” does not exist in Singapore, but was probably invented by an enterprising restaurateur eager to add a dash of exoticism to his menu.

The cuisine bears some resemblance to the cuisine of Malaysia due to the close historical and cultural ties between the two countries. However there are also significant differences. While a number of dishes are common to both countries, the way the dishes are prepared is often different. This is due to numerous evolutionary forks in their development, which gave rise to unique tastes pertaining to each country’s cuisine.

As Singapore is a small country with a high population density, therefore land as a scarce resource is mainly devoted to industrial and housing purposes. Most of the agricultural produce and food ingredients are imported from other countries, although there is a small group of local farmers who produce some leafy vegetables, fruit, poultry, and fish. Nevertheless, Singapore being well connected to major air and sea transport routes due to her strategic geographical position, allows it to import a variety of food ingredients from around the world, including costly seafood items such as sashimi from Japan.

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