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Food safety and tourism in Singapore: between microbial Russian roulette and Michelin stars

Tarulevicz, N ORCID: 0000-0002-9884-5057 and Ooi, CS ORCID: 0000-0002-0824-3766 2019 , 'Food safety and tourism in Singapore: between microbial Russian roulette and Michelin stars' , Tourism Geographies , pp. 1-23 , doi: 10.1080/14616688.2019.1654540.

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Abstract

Drawing on multiple culinary traditions, foodways, and networksof trade, food is both good and important in Singapore. BrandSingapore relies on food culture to market itself to the world, butalso to its citizens. Hawker food, that is, street foods, are at thecore of that marketing, becoming a by-word for Singaporeanculinary culture. Cheap and delicious food was used to shiftSingapore from a stop-over to a destination. But this also reinforces ideas about high and low culture, embodied in what a recenttravel blog described as the “golden rule”: “When you’re travellingin Asia, whether you’re in Sri Lanka or Thailand, in Singapore orVietnam, Malaysia or China, cheap food is the best food.” Whatmakes Singapore distinctive in the framing of ‘cheap Asian food’is that it is considered much safer, travelers can try new thingswithout engaging in the “microbial Russian roulette of streetfood” elsewhere. At the same time, regulations and systems thatkeep people safe can be perceived by tourists to make Singapore,and by extension its culture, too clean, safe, and hygienic. AsSingapore emerges as a global food destination with Michelinstared restaurants and a destination-fine-dining culture, theSingapore Tourism Board continues to recreate the Orientalmystique of the destination by cloaking the modern manifestations of Singapore with stories of its Asian and colonial heritage.In focusing on food safety, this paper highlights the tensionbetween high and low food culture, between safe and unsafe,between street food and fine dining, but it also considers howthey are being negotiate in Singapore. Taste, its arbiters, makers,and guardians, are raced and hierarchical. Singapore’s foodculture provides an example of these orthodoxies are both reinforced and challenged.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Tarulevicz, N and Ooi, CS
Keywords: food tourism, food history, Singapore, food safety, tourism history, Michelin starts, fine dining, hawkers
Journal or Publication Title: Tourism Geographies
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1461-6688
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/14616688.2019.1654540
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

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