Singapore Food Festival: Celebrating Culture and Heritage through Food
If you’re a foodie who loves to travel, put Singapore on your calendar. Its annual Food Festival, which takes place in July, typically draws more than 350,000 people to the island; about 28 percent of these are international travelers.
In 2010, the festival focused on cuisine from various Chinese dialect groups, including the Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka and Hainanese communities. According to Andrew Phua, director for Tourism, Shopping and Dining at the Singapore Tourism Board, Chinese food can differ greatly from region to region. The Food Festival’s objective was to celebrate these differences as well as the rich variety of the city’s culture.
Highlights of the 10-day event included the Clarke Quay Food Street at Read Bridge, where the entire length of the bridge was transformed into a food haven offering sumptuous beef noodle soup, desserts, glutinous rice and chicken rice, among many other delicacies.
Another popular activity was the Tingkat Cruise. A tingkat, also called a tiffin carrier, is a multi-tiered metal vessel used for carrying different dishes. As visitors boarded bumboats on the Singapore River, they were handed a tingkat full of food from the five dialect communities. During the 45-minute cruise, they nibbled on fried carrot cake, rich Fried Hokkien noodles with sambal chilli and dumplings as they took in the sights.
Street food was another treat throughout the event, along with street entertainment. Pushcart vendors served Muah Chee, glutinous rice pieces glazed with chopped peanuts and roasted sugar, and Tu Tu Kueh, made out of rice flour, ground peanut and sugar or shredded coconut served on a fragrant Pandan leaf. Chinese opera singers, string puppeteers and other performers strolled the streets, keeping the crowds entertained as they feasted.
The final food event was the Heritage Feast, with more than 100 authentic dishes set up on five huge buffet lines.
Event-goers were also able to take in the Great Singapore Sale, which takes place at the same time, as well as a series of cooking classes offered by some of the city’s illustrious chefs. Also new in 2010, a digital cooking game app was offered to festival-goers. This allowed players to choose and whip up their own Chinese dialect dishes, getting educated on ingredients along the way.
Giant chopsticks made from regular chopsticks were on display at a local art exhibit.
A tingkat of food.