It takes little effort to rile up the sentiments of Singaporeans - just diss their "Tau Hway" (Soya Bean Curd) and be prepared to face the wrath of a nation.
At least that is what the local organisers for Diner en Blanc did when they commented that Tau Hway was "not on par with the image of their event".
Diner en Blanc (The White Party) is an invite-only dinner party that descends upon a different and very public location each year.
It was started by François Pasquier twenty-five years ago when he invited a few friends to Bois de Boulogne for a reunion after returning to Paris from years abroad. To make it easier for them to find one another, they all agreed to dress in white.
The dinner was such a success that they decided the next year, each person would invite some other friends and from then, the event grew into what it is today.
What makes this exclusive party so special is that the location is often kept a secret and will only be announced hours prior the event started.
There is also a set of stringent house rules to abide to. Flout any one of it and you risk being turn away at the door or even get blacklisted from future events permanently.
Some of these rules include:
- Atendees were to be dressed in white from head to toe- Atendees were to bring their own "quality" food packed in a picinc basket- Food must be eaten off proper plates; disposable ones are not allowed- Only wine and champagne are allowed. Hard alcohol and beer are prohibited- Atendees were to bring their own dining table decorated with white table cloth, ice bucket and candlestand- Gentlemen and ladies were to be seated on opposite sides
Singapore is the first Asian country to host a Diner en Blanc and the organisers had invited local food bloggers to help publicise the event.
Daniel Ang who blogs at danielfooddiary.com, is one of the food blogger invited to the event. He has made a few suggestions on his blog of local fares (Tau Hway, Chwee Kueh, Hainanese Chicken Rice, etc) which attendees could consider bringing to the dinner but his recomendations does not seem to please the organisers very well who then wanted him to remove his blog post in it's entirety.
When Daniel refused to comply, that is when the "holocaust" occured. He, together with all the invited food bloggers have had their invitations withdrawn, with the organisers citing space constraints as the reason.
All, except for one, blogger Moonberry from New York was allowed to still come.
However, according to what Moonberry has heard, the real reason behind it was that the organizers felt that there is little value in inviting bloggers because they do not regard social media influencers to be that influential anyway.
(Moonberry too was dropped from the list after blogging about what she heard)
A day after Daniel published a subsequent blog post explaining what has happened, angry Singaporeans began bashing Diner en Blanc Singapore on their Facebook page which was promptly shut down as of 11.45am on Saturday.
See the backlash of what ONE blog entry just did to them? And they say that bloggers aren't influential?
(Edit: The news has now even reached The Wall Street Journal)
Now, you DO NOT un-invite someone after they had publicized your event for you. Pardon my French but that is fucking rude.
You DO NOT kick people aside after having made use of them!
But what really pisses me and all Singaporeans alike was their condescending attitude towards our local food.
Is local food not worthy to be placed on the table?
Is it only Foie Gras and Escargots (read: liver and snails) that can make the cut?
Will the Tau Huay stand a better chance if it was named Pudding De Soja instead?
When in Rome, do as the Romans. You have the freedom to set your rules to your event but while doing so, do be sensitive to the feelings and culture of your host country.
It is just a high profile picnic for wannabes, for God's sake!
Respect goes both ways.
If you have none for us, then expect the same treatment in return.
Hawker food is not just our identity, but also an integral part of our culture. It is something close to our hearts!
At the hawker center, I can be who I am without pretending to be someone whom I am not.
I choose to eat whatever I want, dress however I like, sit wherever I please and I don't even have to bother with so many pretentious rules and regulations!
I hereby implore all self-respecting Singaporeans to have some dignity and boycott this snobbish food event.
We Singaporeans are not that cheap.