Is it considered rude to ask your local hawkers where they source their food?
This was a question posed by an exchange student on NUSWhispers, an anonymous confessions platform that caters mainly to students from the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The contributor, who claims to be a French girl on overseas exchange in NUS, shared her bad experience at a chicken rice stall on the NUS campus after she tried to ask the lady in charge where the chickens came from.
Asked the chicken rice auntie where the chickens were reared
The contributor explained that she is a very health conscious person, and pays close attention to what she eats, especially the quality of the ingredients.
When eating out, she would frequently enquire about the sourcing of these ingredients, going as far as to question the conditions in which animals were reared.
However, when she ordered chicken rice at the stall in NUS, her questions were not well-received.
She asked the stallholder a number of questions, including whether she knew where the rice and chicken came from, how they were reared, and whether she knew the producer.
In response, the lady allegedly got angry, and began scolding the exchange student in Singlish.
Although the contributor claimed that she could not understand her scolding, she interpreted it as "you are insulting me and my food, and if you are not happy, you can go find elsewhere."
Restaurant owners in France directly source their ingredients from the producer
The exchange student made it clear that she asked the question "very politely and in a friendly way," but claimed that she did not understand the stallholder's reaction.
She said that it is normal to want to know where food ingredients are coming from, as food should be considered your body's fuel.
The contributor explained that in France, it is quite common to ask these questions even in a small and simple family restaurant, and chefs will readily answer these questions, as it shows the chef that you appreciate his food.
She also noted that restaurant owners, especially those in the countryside, directly source their ingredients from the producer.
Singaporeans don't pay attention to quality of ingredients
The contributor pointed out that Singapore is similar to France, as food culture is considered highly important in both countries.
However, she said that unlike France, Singaporeans do not appear to pay a lot of attention to the origin and quality of the primary ingredients.
She claimed that it was paradoxical, given how "good ingredients result in tasty and healthy food."
She then asked Singaporeans whether they agreed or disagreed with her.
Can't expect organic food at hawker prices
Some netizens felt that although the question itself may not be rude, it could be a stretch to expect the people manning hawker stalls to know the origins of individual ingredients.
Others pointed out that hawkers in Singapore are more focused on keeping food affordable, so it is unreasonable to expect organic ingredients at such low prices.
One commenter pointed out that since most of Singapore's food is imported, locals generally do not know or care about our food's origin, as long as it tastes good.
A fellow French student thought the contributor was being a little naive, since she cannot expect to receive free-range chicken at hawker prices.
He also explained that due to cultural differences, Singaporeans are generally less concerned about food trends that are prevalent in France.
One lady patiently explained that the chicken rice auntie was simply shell-shocked from the question, given how she likely does not receive these queries on a regular basis.
You can read the original post here:
Top image from Pixabay and NUS's Facebook page.
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