Food writing

Food writing is currently attracting popular and scholarly attention. This is an emergent area
of study in relation to Singapore (Brien 2014) where despite significant scholarship having
addressed local foodways (see, for instance, Hutton 1989; Huat & Rajah 2001; Duruz 2006,
2007, 2011; Bishop 2011; Leong-Salobir 2011; Tarulevicz 2013) and these studies often
mentioning Singapore cookbooks, food writing – in common with many other examples of
Singaporean popular culture – has not attracted significant or sustained notice (see, Brien
2014). The following will, therefore, profile the contemporary published book-length
Singaporean food memoir. For the purpose of this discussion, these texts are defined as
autobiographical narratives that focus on food and culinary content (Waxman 2008; Brien
2011). The investigation will identify a series of common concerns and tropes, as well as
differences and variation, across the form. It will also begin to tease out the role these texts
play in preserving and promoting Singaporean food culture, both for local consumers and
Donna Lee Brien others. Although many languages are used in Singapore, English is the national language
(Alsagoff 2010) and this study refers only to food memoir in English. In order to focus on
contemporary manifestations of this specialist literary genre, a selection of food memoirs
from the past decade will be considered. While memoir-based magazine or newspaper food-based articles (produced in print or online) and memoir-focused weblogs are an important
component of this phenomenon, the focus will be on book-length published memoirs and will
not be included in this investigation.

 

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