30/08/2012 – Make and Eat Tau Huay Day! Join the fun!
I remember being really excited when I first read about Diner en Blanc to be hosted in Singapore a couple of months back. This social-cum-gastronomic event which began about quarter of a century ago in France, has since being re-created and celebrated in several other major cities around the world. Surely it would be much of a hooha in Singapore too! Well, it most certainly did, but in a somewhat “gone wrong” manner, deriving the kinda publicity which I’m pretty sure the organisers weren’t expecting, and ain’t gonna be too please about.
A couple of weeks back, a fellow food blogger Daniel Ang wrote excitedly in a post on his blog about the Diner en Blanc in Singapore, to be held this upcoming Thursday in a “secret location” which would only be made known to participants just prior to the event. He went on to make suggestions on a possible menu for the day, including items like tau huay (soya beancurd), xiao long bao (mini steamed meat dumplings), soon kueh etc… many of which are familiar local delights, commonly enjoyed by the masses from all walks of life. Deemed as being too novel, the suggestions seem to have met with some not-too-pleasant responses from the organisers, who perhaps felt that the food being proposed by Daniel were somewhat against the organisers’ perceived notion of “greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette”, which they’d hoped for the event to portray. The PR company in charge of the event went to the extent of requesting Daniel to have his entire blog post removed, citing that “the local delicacies were not in line with the image of the picnic.” Finally, the organisers went all out to “uninvite” not just Daniel but all the food bloggers to the event, poorly excusing themselves for the “lack of available space“. duh…HUMBUG!
Well, I’m most certainly not one of the food bloggers invited to cover the event. Why am I wriiting about this then? Basically because I am in full agreement with what Daniel shared on his blog. This is a clear case of a lack of respect for local culture. Yes, tau huay is most certainly no haute cuisine. But who are the organisers to judge if it is too lowly to be placed on the tableau blanc. As what Irene of Moonberry wrote in her blog, tau huay is no more than an Asian version of pannacotta. If the latter is “elegant” enough to make it onto the table, why not tau huay? I concur with that! Surely its Asian cousin is in no way inferior to the Italian dessert? To impose upon participants to come dressed all-white, bring white based furniture, table cloth etc… chic! To impose a “no beer or hard liquor” rule but yet allow wine and champagne… understandable though not very logical! But to police and dictate what food one brings and puts on the dining table… that’s gastronomic imperialism! As much as it being the organiser’s dire desire to maintain the the utmost standards of social decorum, and uphold the
haute atas facade of the event, the participants’ personal preference for food has to be respected. Having to lug one’s own dining table and chairs to the event, lay out one’s own table and prepare what one decides to feed oneself is hardly exemplary of fine dining to start with, so why be so anal retentive particular about the food? Surely the folks going would not be so ungracious or daft as to pack durians or smelly beancurd into their picnic basket for the event. That would be absolutely mental! Yet, I’m pretty sure those who’d signed up and paid for it (yes, one actually have to pay and yet, bring everything all by oneself to the event! that’s another bizarre tale altogether I know!), would exercise sound discretion to not bring what most would deem to be publically repulsive or even revocable. Other then that, why fuss over what people eat? The organiser’s notion that “local food is not in line with the intended image” is preposterous and completely unacceptable. Clearly, it is a case which stems from oblivion or even ignorance on local culinary demographics. Why should pot-au-feu or boeuf à la Bourguignonne be welcomed but kari ayam and rendang daging be loathed at and looked down with disgust? So it would be chic and classy to whip up a ratatouille but nyonya chup chye be deemed as a disaster? Though I would not be there to verify, I have a feeling that we are gonna see a lot of SPAM and cheese sandwiches at the event, so why not popiah or bakchang? Like I’d said, gastronomic imperialism!
I can fully empathise with what Daniel and some other food bloggers who had been “uninvited” without being “properly excused”. An intermingling of sour and bitter aftertaste and I’m not talking about the food! So, no I would not be silly enough to call for a boycott of the event, neither do I have a sphere of influence sufficiently big to do so. Instead, I appeal to one and all to stay grounded, remembering the foods which you’d grown up eating and to love, most of which I’m sure are local delights like tau huay, foods which you could always fall back on and enjoy, unpretentious and readily available, simple but yet close to one’s heart. So I would like to suggest a “Make and Eat Tau Huey Day” on 30th August 2012, on the very day which Diner en Blanc is to be held. Nope, this is not an act of protest or rebellion against the upclass social event, but a mere reminder to myself and everyone like me, the importance of mutual respect and staying grounded. Yes, it is basically a spinoff of the “Cook Curry Day” of what happened just one year ago on 21st August 2011, and I’m not ashamed to be stating so and I’m most certainly taking no credit for it!
So do join in the fun on 30 August 2012. Buy yourself a tub of tau huay from your favorite dessert stall and post a photo of it on social media, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, pinterest, etc telling your friends how you enjoy it. Bloggers, please blog about it too! Or better still, make your own tau huay with the very many recipes available online and share it with your loved ones. Remember, that it is not who you are that makes the difference, it is what you are…
Cute right? Created by fellow blogger Smith Leong, as shared on Daniel’s blog!