French Talks: Malaysian Gastronomy

Date: 18 Feb 2019, 8:00pm - 10:00pm (GMT+08:00) Kuala Lumpur


Monday 18 February – 8pm @AFKL

[FRENCH TALKS] Malaysian Gastronomy: Past, Present and Future

Talk conducted in English

Free entrance upon RSVP

A rapid survey of the world restaurant scene shows that there is little presence of Malaysian “gastronomic” restaurants all over the globe. One can be tempted to ponder on the reasons behind such a fact, which implicitly validates the assumption that possessing gastronomy matters. The social functions of gastronomy vary from one country to another: it may serve as tourism pulling factor - as demonstrated by the rise of the culinary tourism phenomenon; or being politically instrumental as a form of soft power in the context of international relations.

In Malaysia, gastronomy is often correlated with the quest for a national identity, as well as with a process of cultural decolonization. Literature shows that the term “gastronomy” carries different meanings and may blur the boundaries with competing concepts such as “cuisine” or “fine dining”, with or without nationalistic feature. In this presentation, I wish to segregate the concept of gastronomy from the one of national cuisine. I will also argue that being endowed with a high cuisine produces symbolic capital that may give Malaysia soft power in the realm of international politics.

Finally, I will suggest that Malaysian gastronomy can be “invented” in the sociological acceptance of the term, but not without prior in-depth historical and anthropological investigation. I will take the opportunity to dwell a bit in the history of food both in Malaysia and France, using comparative analysis with the French experience. We shall finish our conference with the proposal of a methodology to enable the process of “gastronomisation” for Malaysia.

Organised by

Embassy of France in Malaysia

Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur

Supported by

Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)


What is French Talks?

Welcoming French and Malaysian experts, it aims at creating a space of dialogue, and a bridge between the two countries and their cultures. This is particularly timely in this new Malaysia where people are willing to express their views

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