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How Singapore Street Food became a UNESCO Heritage to preserve -Part 1

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Some countries passed down their history through art or books, while others perpetuate their pasts through stories. However, in Singapore, the story of how a small fishing village in Southeast Asia has emerged into a crowded modern city starts from a bowl of peppery pork ribs soup and fried egg noodles in the hawker centers.

Across the city, the open-air food halls can be found literally anywhere, with each food hall serving a multitude of delicacies. These food halls are home to many closet-sized stalls, managed by hawkers - mini entrepreneurs who cook to bring food to the tummy of the consumers. In hawker centers, you are often spoilt for choices on the food to eat. Therefore, this gave birth to the Singaporean Style of picking and choosing - queue for the store with the longest line.

In Singapore, the hawker culture is more than just enjoying a quality meal at affordable prices. It is a symbol of the congregation of Chinese, Indian and Malay under one roof in a bid to serve food to people who enjoy eating out (perhaps because they do not know how to cook or do not have time to cook, etc.). Hawker centers are so closely linked to the core of Singapore that it has recently been inscribed in the 2020 UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This is akin to having a pat "good job" for our efforts in preserving the culture, traditions, and story that is intrinsic to Singapore.

The intangibles list has acknowledged homegrown music styles, festivals, crafts, and food, since 2003. To be considered for the list, countries will nominate and promote their cultural practices before a UNESCO committee decides on whether eg. Chinese shadow puppetry or Argentine tango earns a spot.

This article was adapted from

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