Casual Racism

I’m not sure if it was ever implemented, but I remember reading about the ridiculous ban on foreigners as cooks in hawker stores in Penang a while ago. I mean, I am all for eating tasty food but I honestly think people are being racist if they think that foreigners can’t cook food as well as the locals. I mean, come fucking on – it’s just cooking. Your race doesn’t define your cooking skills. You know what does? Your patience and determination to learn. All the practice you’ve done in the past. Your experience working in the kitchen. Where you’re from has nothing to do with your cooking skills – or any other skills in life for that matter.

Sure, there are restaurants out there that have dropped in standards but it’s not because of foreign cooks. Correlation is not causation. It’s because the cooks who were trained to cook those meals weren’t sufficiently schooled to do so. Blame the restaurant owners who let the cooks prepare unsatisfactory meals.

Maybe being from Malaysia helps. If you know how dishes ought to taste, it’ll help you when it comes to tuning the flavors. That’s the only advantage I can think of but it’s also something that can be learned over time. If all you’re doing as a cook is following an established recipe down to the T – there’s no way you can fuck it up right? If you do, you’re a person who is bad at following instructions. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. There are people all over the world like that.

Just because you’re Malaysian, it doesn’t mean you can inherently cook good Malaysian food. I’ve tasted bad local food from local cooks too. On the other hand, I’ve had local dishes prepared by foreigners that I would recommend to people. What does that mean then? Absolutely nothing. In the former, it was a case of incompetent cooks and in the latter, competent cooks. It had nothing to do with where they were from.

I honestly believe that if nobody ever saw who the cooks were (i.e. they were all behind in kitchens), nobody would complain about foreigners cooking. Just because they see a foreigner behind the stove, they’ve got a scapegoat. Because local chefs obviously can’t do wrong. It’s always the fault of the foreigners.

Foreigners are people too. And there’s a reason that restaurants hire them. They’re willing to do the same jobs for lower pay. Most of them come to Malaysia in search of a better life. What’s wrong with that? Malaysians do the same thing overseas. Would you like it if you weren’t allowed to work just because people in other countries complained about you not being a local?

Anyway, all I’m trying to say is, judge places by the food served and its service. Not where the cook is from. A shitty cook is shitty no matter where they come from.

If you don’t like the food from a certain restaurant anymore, file a complaint, if they value your input, they’ll listen to you. Or you can go elsewhere. If enough people stop going to a restaurant, they’ll make the necessary adjustments to survive. If they don’t change and they still survive, they’re obviously doing something right. In the meantime, you can go elsewhere. There’s so many places to choose from.

Getting rid of foreigners isn’t going to solve the problem. Also, if the demand for food by locals was so high, wouldn’t we see a lot more of them cooking instead? Just be glad that there are people there who would gladly cook for you in the first place.

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