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To me, food isn’t just a supplement to sustain our lives, but also a cultural fusion of diverse natural elements based on collective and individual wisdom and traditions. Food is the tool of my family’s bonding and a reason to sit down together by the table and share our daily anecdotes after one day’s hard work and study. It coveys family memories that are forever embedded in our minds and taste buds. The smell, taste and colours always tell a story of my family’s TLC to each other.
When we were kids, many of us probably read the book series Chicken Soup for the Soul. Soup is always something soothing for my stomach but also my mind. Different ingredients are put together by the chef to make a splendid soup, which is just like different individuals getting together to cook and share a meal and create memorable experiences. Therefore, I really like the artists’ idea of bringing people together at a communal space to share individual stories and create collaborative memories.
I’m like a “stray bird” to my family, who have been nothing but entirely supportive and loving. After growing up in my hometown where I’ve never felt I belong, I started living overseas on my own. Australia was the first stop. But whenever I got sick, my comfort food would always be some Asian cuisine, which would remind me of my grandpa’s cooking. Grandpa (my idol) became a cooking enthusiast since he retired from his political career. He once joked he used to cook for the high authority of the government and I believed that was his occupation my entire primary school coz his cooking is that good. We used to debate on current affairs over lunch/dinner since I was a kid. And grandma was the judge.
Food is the soul of a culture, a mean to many ends.  To my family, it is something that evokes familiarity, empathy and reflection. Whenever we cook something, it has to be palatable to all members of the family. This means not deviating too much from food cooked to a typical southern Chinese palette. Food is a means to help us show understanding and concern to family members. Before eating something, we caution each other about the food about to be consumed on whether if it contains allergens. It is also a conduit to reflection, a time to tell ourselves how far we have come in terms of economic status. 
I love food and I love culture, and I think food is the most important, if not the only bond, that can hold a Singaporean society together. Singapore is a multi-cultural, multi-national and ever-changing society. In a country where it is expected of its people to accept these changes unquestioningly, food becomes the only source of comfort and familiarity the state cannot change or tear down. The recipes of food exists in our head. They can tear down old National Library, but they cannot destroy the recipe for roti john. By joining this event, I hope to talk to like minded people, or even better, get that elusive roti john recipe.
My mother was a itinerant hawker, selling soon kueh in the neighbourhood of Toa Payoh. Her experience as a child labourer, and later as a street peddler in her formative and adolescence years made her develop a strong but sometimes quirky outlook in life. Her experience on the street has made her, in nutshell, so fiercely independent and resilience that it has become difficult to accept any form of help. For example,  if she forgot her wallet, she would rather go hungry as opposed borrowing money from her other colleagues. This is something I would like explore, if not share.
For 18 years of my life, I had dinner with my parents every night. Well, almost every night, and if we didn't, we were apologetic about it, or there would be strong justification for it. Then I moved away. Food was time for conversation, to catch up on our days, to connect. It is my parents' hopes and dreams for me, when they made me special Teochew dishes for my first day of primary school. It is the security of growing up to soya bean milk and prawn noodles every Sunday morning. It was the ricecooker my mother made me bring to the US. It's all that. Today it is the precious few hours I see them a few times a week at the end of a busy day, a safe common topic to approach harder conversations. It is unspoken love, plenty of nostalgia, with a dash of heritage.
My father was born in Selangor in Malaysia, my mother in Singapore and my ancestors from Teochew (Guangdong province) and Hokkien (Fujian province) in China. I honestly can't say I know much about all about my family history (sorry, not that interesting), but I've always wanted to know what all these dynamics mean for me.
As a doctoral research and former development professional exploring the diverse facets of gastropolitics and interventionist nature of cooking, food for me is a highly dynamic socio-political player which deeply influences gender, power relations, segregation and social institutions. That said, food also yields an immense power to challenge and bring forth a change in the existing social hierarchies. I work around bringing forth the narratives of women from displaced communities who challenge the gendered division of labour and performance through the act of cooking, and how the food itself is politicized and commercialized in the process of migration. Being born in a migrant family, the delicacies on our dinner table speaks of a long history influence, confluence and imposition. I strongly believe that the platter is political indeed.  
I hail from a family which has a history of migration and displacement, which is reflected not only in our culture and language, but in our culinary tradition as well. I have grown up on the narratives of loss, pain, hope and resilience narrated to me by my grandparents who were survivors of the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. From childhood, I have been interested in exploring the historical and the cultural past through the stories narrated to me. I published the socio-economic implication behind the religious lore of a holy shrine of Hindus in present day Pakistan while I was in school, based on the narratives collected from the elders of my community. My masters’ thesis and the current doctoral project is essentially based on recreating the cultural past through the family recipes of the Punjabi community, the one which I belong to.
My mum makes some of the best Burmese noodles and I haven't found any better in Singapore, so it's always a treat when she makes them. Food is also a way to show love and care, such as making porridge when someone is sick, or preparing fruits regularly to keep the family healthy.
I'm the eldest son in a family of 4, with a younger brother. My family migrated here from Myanmar in 1996, and have since taken up citizenship. Being the first of our relatives in Singapore, we don't have much history here, and I'm extremely out of touch with my family history outside of the Singapore chapter.
I am an artist, currently developing a participatory live art project on how people eat together, table manners, and ways of eating specifically with chopsticks, and the right hand. It explores the cultural practices and influences in my life, including Peranakan-Chinese, Greek, British, and Buddhist references. I am interested in participatory practices related to food as a form of research at the moment.
My paternal grandparents were Hakka, and my maternal side, Peranakan. Hakka is traditionally salty due to the fact that by the time the Hakka people, who were nomadic, arrived anywhere, the arable land were taken, forcing them to preserve their food so they could keep longer as they could not be grown. My Hakka family were extremely conservative, and dinner was a very stressful process. My Peranakan family were relaxed, and had similar table manners to the Malays/Muslims, eating with our right hand, with strict emphasis on hand cleansing.
What does food mean to you and your family?
What can our cooking habits tell us about our family history? How do we witness family history being played out by individuals during the process of making a soup together? Can we shape our family histories through cooking? Our workshop presents an opportunity for participants to delve into the group activity of cooking soup and uncover what they have inherited from their families.