US Prof of Southeast Asia Tweets That SG & MY Food Taste the Same & Netizens Disagree

Malaysian versus Singapore food seems like a topic that we can discuss forever. To make things spicy, it seems like the real world wants this argument to elevate to the next level.

Much to my own entertainment, a US Professor, who apparently is in the Southeast Asia Program and studies comparative politics and political economy, has basically made the comparison moot by angering the whole South East Asia instead.

He did this by “objectively” ranking Southeast Asian Cuisines on Twitter.

Cue The Hoo-Haa

Needless to say, this didn’t go too well with everybody. And when everybody is angry in a situation you don’t want to get yourself in, you get the popcorn.

Image: Giphy

Some were kind enough to warn him of what he had just done.

Although, some appears to agree with him and fueled the shit storm.

Hell, even he himself continued to defecate on the little remnants of his reputation and saying nasi padang is meh.

Image: Tom Pepinsky Twitter

And then the angry mobs.

Just in case: Why all this is wrong

Okay, it shouldn’t need mentioning that food is very subjective. Every country has different cuisines that are shaped by the different ingredients and techniques available, among other factors.

Coming up with a “best” any food doesn’t make sense. Even for the same dish, the small differences from stall to stall or chef to chef means that the dish is basically a different dish.

You CAN objectively say that a Chicken Rice stall did it better because they seasoned the Chicken properly, comparing to another that has a bland chicken that is clearly not salted properly. But even that is subjective since different people are differently sensitive to salt.


You also CANNOT say that a stall is better because they decided to add nonya achar as a side. Beyond some point, the dishes are different, and it’s really personal preference.

I’m not saying it’s not a reason to patronise the stall with nonya achar just because they have it.

I’m just saying that “better” doesn’t mean anything when it does not directly compare a certain skill, technique, or quantity that can be measured. A stall giving more chicken meat at a lower price for the same quality is objectively better.

So when you now try to rank cuisines that consists of hundreds or thousands of dishes, you know you done f up. Example: There’s also no such thing as Indonesian cuisine since every region in Indonesia has its own cuisine. Betawi and Balinese cuisine are different, for instance.

At this point, you might be questioning my credentials. Maybe don’t take it from me, but from KF Seetoh, a name you might have heard of a few times in food-related articles on the Newspaper.


He once criticised a “best food experience list” saying “doesn’t make sense“. He said: “The reviewers are just a bunch of backpackers who went to each country and tried maybe 20 to 30 dishes and ranked them. This doesn’t do justice to the few thousand other dishes around the world. Nobody is fit to say what food is best.”

Alright time for the tinfoil hat

Image: Meme Generator

Let’s try to understand the professor’s position here. What is he trying to achieve by doing this? He is creating conflicts.

And do you know what he studies? Comparative politics. And what is comparative politics?

From Wikipedia: “In other words, comparative politics is the study of the domestic politics, political institutions, and conflicts of countries.”

Do you see now what’s going on? The man is a professor studying conflicts. And in a world seemingly with too much peace going on, that can be a little difficult to study. So he created one.



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