- Susan Low
Singaporean food has been newsworthy...
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
...if for the wrong reasons. The news story that London chef Elizabeth Haigh's book Makan was withdrawn from sale by its publisher amid accusations of plagiarism has attracted a great deal of media attention.
Sharon Wee's book, Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen: Asian Recipes from my Mother, was published in 2012. It took 10 years to research and write and is a deeply personal collection of her mother's treasured recipes. Sharon, now living in New York, is from Singapore's Peranakan community (Peranakan women are known as 'nonyas'), who are well known for their distinctive cuisine and love of food.
I spoke to Sharon earlier this week for a piece on the ckbk website about her food memories, how she documented and perfected her mother's recipes, and what writing the book meant to her (spoiler alert: "This book was my gift to her. I’m just sorry that she never got to see it.")
For obvious reasons, Sharon was unable to discuss anything that could be construed as legally contentious, but I learned a lot about Peranakan food and culture from Sharon. I've only been to Singapore once (something I need to rectify) but made sure I tried the Peranakan cooking when I was there, and was glad that I did.
The good news is that Nonya Kitchen will be available again from December 15 (you can pre-order through Amazon) – and I can't think of a better Christmas present for a food-lover.
Sharon also writes an excellent blog called Nonya Global, which weaves together stories of family history, family life, recipes and travels, and is a great resource if you want to learn more about Peranakan cuisine – and there will be a 10th-anniversary edition of Sharon's book coming out next year too.