Reflections

Finnish food culture

 

The the traditional food is very plain looking. I think that every child is Finland is taught to eat all the food that they have taken. This reflects the hard times endured by the people in the past. Although I find that these traditions are slowly changing.

l Plain looking food possibly linked to low context culture

 

I find that eating is less of a social event in Finland, when compared to for example Singapore. It still a social event but when compared to places such as Spain and France, dinner is much less of a social event.

l Linked to Individualistic culture

 

When looking at eating habits in terms of power distance. It is not uncommon to eat with your superiors and bosses. This reflects the low power distance.

 

Most of the time the Finns eat at home, traditionally eating out is considered to be something special and is done when celebrating something. However, in urban Finland this is no longer the case, people eat out much more than in the past, but nowhere near as much as in Singapore. In rural Finland, I believe that the tradition still exists. One reason for the lack of eating out is the cost, when compared to Singapore, eating out in Finland is expensive, there are no cheap places like the hawker centers, cheapest food is fast food. Eating at restaurant will cost you min, of S$ 30.

 

 

Finnish view of Singaporean food

 

The first thing that struck me about Singaporean food was the numerous food courts, as those are not present in Finland. The great choice of food was something new.

 

Eating out is also much more common in Singapore than in Finland, lot more choices especially less expensive ones. Since eating out is more common, eating becomes more of a social event where you eat with your friends.

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October 23, 2007 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

Table manners – The Outsider’s View

Over the weekend I dined with some of my Finnish family members at a Korean restaurant, and got a good reminder of the difference in table manners between different cultures.

The family members I dined with haven’t traveled very much and come from rural Finland, so a Korean restaurant in Asia was a very new experience for them. The restaurant was one of those cook-it-yourself types, where there is a BBQ in the middle of the table and everyone cooks their own food. Some of my family members were very reserved and tried to eat in a very neat manner. Where as I, already eating like the locals, and the rest of restaurant were mostly concerned with getting food into our mouths and not worrying if we spilled some of the food on to our table.

I was amused by this huge difference in culture, and then, by coincidence, I heard a radio show about Finnish eating habits. It explained how, at least in the past, table manners were very important and that the food that we ate had to be respected. So strict table manners were a way of respecting the food. This need to respect the food was due to the harsh living conditions of the past.

October 22, 2007 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment

Halal or haram

The cultural diversity of Singapore can be seen in many different ways in the food culture. Religion is one factor adding to the complexity and diversity, especially the Muslim and also sometimes Hindu influences. The Hindu influence can be seen in the type of food they serve. It is often vegetarian food, as Hindus favor vegetarianism, although chicken is a common ingredient used. Muslim influence can be seen in wider scope. One way it can be noticed, is in the school cantines, upon returning the trays. The trays are separated according to whether they held muslim or non-muslim food. This is because of the Muslim dietary rules of food being either “halal” (allowed) or “haram” (not allowed). Most muslim food stalls display certifications that their food is halal. According to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America [http://www.ifanca.org/halal/]:

“All foods are considered halal except the following, which are haram:

* Swine/pork and its by-products
* Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
* Animals killed in the name of anyone other than ALLAH (God)
* Alcohol and intoxicants
* Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
* Blood and blood by-products
* Foods contaminated with any of the above products”

These strict rules on for example not to eat pork are in clear contrast to the food culture of the main Chinese population. Pork is almost the most commonly used meat in many of their foods. Something that got my attention was also that they do not make food out of only the meat parts, but also intestines, knuckles, stomach, and various other parts that in Finland would not commonly be encountered in everyday food. As a comparison to Singapore, in Finland the lack of cultural diversity (around 95% of the population are ethnic Finns) also means that in the food culture concepts such as “halal” are largely unknown. Singapore really seems to be a melting pot of cultures and religions, in the way that very different practices coexist side by side to serve the different needs of the different cultures.

October 22, 2007 at 3:38 am Leave a comment

Thoughts

Looking through Johan’s pictures, I couldn’t help but notice his interests leaned towards the sheer variety of food and how eating was such a huge social affair for Singaporeans.

As Singaporeans we really have become numb to the bright lights, flashy ads and really sheer marketing genius of F&B outlets that have made it to our shores.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15474394@N05/

October 20, 2007 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

Back in the free world

Hi, I just got back from Burma, so I’ll start my “diet watch” a little late.

Friday Lunch
When: 3pm
Where: Airport Burger king
Who: Matti
What: Whopper meal
Why: Cheapest available and needed some quick food after the flight.
How: With my hands. Without the cheese. It too expensive, I’m a poor student after all.

Dinner
When: 8pm
Where: PGP cantine
Who: some friends i met at the cantine
What: Spicy Chicken cubes
Why: Tastes good and clears my stuffy nose.
How:Rice and chicken. Not forgetting the chilies and onions. It’s not actually as spicy as it looks.

September 30, 2007 at 9:45 pm Leave a comment

Friday

After a week of being cut off from internet, I have returned from Hong Kong. The food was great, but it’s a bit irrelevant for our project. Therefore I’ll start from friday, which represents my everyday life as an exchange student here in Singapore.

One big thing that I think is worth some attention, is the fact that I almost never cook anything in here (if you don’t count the occasional instant noodles when everything is closed). This leads to eating being a much more social event than just making food for yourself at home. This depends also very much on where you live. At PGP, which is a very big student apartment complex on campus, and where most of the exchange students live, people go to eat at the cantine, where the likelihood of meeting a friend is big. Because of this the meals extend to much more than just feeding yourself. People are more likely to stay there for longer periods of time or to continue somewhere together just to hang out. Therefore I think, that eating brings people together and is a factor that increases the amount of social interaction among people. I think this is important, because in other cultures it might have the opposite effect. For example where I come from, Finland, eating out is much more expensive than making your own food. People might sometimes go home to cook some macaroni with tuna and then afterwards resume the social interaction. In this situation eating would have an effect of decreasing the amount of social interaction.

As a case in point, my friday was as follows:
breakfast and lunch, same thing for me…
When?: at 2pm, I slept very late, tired from a weeks trip to Hong Kong.
With who?: I eat slow, so I met first a dutch friend, then followed by an English friend and then by Lauri, a finnish friend who I was supposed to meet there.
Where?: at the PGP cantine, Asian cuisine stall
What?: Kung Pow Chicken with rice
Why?: Because it’s cheap and tasty
How?: With chopsticks of course 🙂 In Singapore you generally get the option of eating either with chopsticks (and a kind of spoon), by hand (indian food), or by spoon and fork combo. They hardly ever have knives available, napkins are also rare.

Snacks:
5pm at the campus pool restaurant, something called a Bing. A kind of fried bun with veggies and egg in it. Ate with Lauri, after exhausting ourselves by doing laps in the pool.
7pm at home, alone. A bag of roasted chestnuts I had bought from Hong Kong while doing homework. Delicious.

Late Dinner:
9:40pm while doing some laundry I went to get a take away meal from the PGP cantine. I got some rice and different kinds of vegetarian food from the vegetarian stall, because it was the only one still open. There was tofu, some veggies and chicken (at least I thought so, might have also been some kind of fake tofu chicken). On the way I met a Korean friend Sinae, and I ended up hanging out in the PGP courtyard until late. It seems to me that the best way to prevent loneliness is to just go get some food :). You’re bound to meet some people.

September 29, 2007 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

Thursday[270907]..What, when, where, who, why, how did you eat today?



Brunch [Colloquial way of Singaporean saying Breakfast and Lunch]
Eat When?: 12.30PM
Eat What?:Yong Tau Foo
Eat Where?: @ NUS
With who?: Jeslyn and Cheryl
Why?: You get to choose your ingredient with your noodles!
How?: Choose your ingredient and your noodles. You can also have it dry or soup.

Dinner
Eat When?: 8.00PM
Eat What?: Hor Fun
Eat Where?: @ home
With who?: Mummy
Why?: It is packed from the food store near our place, not as oily as other food.
How?: They cooked the noodle first and pour gravy like soup into the noodle. Usually serve with meat, vegetable and seafood.

September 28, 2007 at 10:40 am Leave a comment

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