6 August 2020

How to celebrate Singapore’s National Day virtually

| Sophia Brady
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A 'hawker centre'

A ‘hawker centre’ – a quintessential Singapore experience. Photos: Singapore Tourism Board.

Remember when you could fly direct to Singapore from Canberra, arriving after an overnight flight to experience the wonderful sights, smells and food?

Ahead of Singapore’s National Day on Sunday (9 August), Region Media spoke to the staff at the High Commission of the Republic of Singapore in Canberra for their tips on how to bring a little bit of Singapore into our homes right here in Canberra, despite international travel being off the cards for the foreseeable future.

With a list of dishes to try and a virtual program that involves the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), it is a great time to experience Singaporean culture.

Tell us about Singaporean food and food culture. What are some iconic dishes?

Singaporeans are notoriously food-obsessed – there’s an emotional resonance when it comes to food because it invokes personal shared memories with loved ones, but is also a broader reflection of our multi-racial, multicultural identity. The country’s always been an important entrepôt, given its location at the crossroads of Asia, and its food is a unique melting pot of the great and diverse cultures of the Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian and other groups that have influenced one another over time.

More recently, we have attracted global chefs who have brought fine-dining offerings from many other metropolitan cities to our little island.

What are some iconic dishes?

An indelible part of our food culture is the ‘hawker centre’, a hub of tantalising food and beverage stalls serving up affordable meals that reflect our multicultural makeup. Each stall often serves just one dish, usually a family recipe perfected over many years. Around $15 will buy you a multiple-course meal like a plate of Fried Carrot Cake (a savoury dish made with white radish, not orange carrots!), some Satay to share, a piping hot cup of Kopi (local coffee with condensed milk), and a bowl of Ice Kacang (shaved ice dessert) to cap the meal with a sweet note.

We’ve gained a reputation as a food paradise because of the dizzying range and quality of cuisines available, whether it’s Michelin-starred, international, or homegrown. Some of our iconic local dishes include the Singapore Chilli Crab, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Char Kway Teow, and Singapore Laksa, but our Peranakan cuisine is also unrivalled. Peranakans are Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage – the food that has resulted is a delicious mash-up of these vibrant cultures.

How will you be celebrating Singapore’s National Day this year?

Singapore’s National Day is on the 9th of August. We will be celebrating our 55th National Day as well as 55 years of diplomatic relations with Australia (Australia was the first country to recognise Singapore’s independence).

Due to the ongoing pandemic, rather than hosting receptions and gathering, Singaporeans in various states and territories have had to be creative in celebrating the occasion in a COVID-safe way.

We have commissioned a joint performance by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) to mark this special occasion. The two orchestras will be coming together – virtually – to play a medley of well-loved Australian and Singaporean tunes. This will be streamed online for all to enjoy, and you can join us on Friday, 7 August 2020 at 7:30 pm on the Singapore High Commission in Canberra Facebook Page as well as at this microsite we designed for the occasion.

In Singapore, our traditional National Day Parade and concert will not have a physical audience but will instead be streamed live throughout the day on Sunday, 9 August. During this virtual program, the Singapore High Commission will be co-hosting a virtual party for Singaporeans across Australia to gather, celebrate and connect with one another.

Of course, it also goes without saying that we have plans to have a small makans (Malay word for “eat” that Singaporeans use to refer to a meal gathering) in our own homes as no celebration is complete without sharing a meal with people who matter to you!

To view the joint performance by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) on Friday 7 August at 7:30 pm visit the Singapore High Commission in Canberra Facebook Page or the microsite.

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