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Nothing gets a passionate foodie fired up more than claims on their national dish. Here’s where it has turned ugly.

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United against a common enemy
United against a common enemy
Wikimedia

For a short period of two weeks in early April, Singaporeans and Malaysians (as well as some Indonesians and Bruneians) united against one common enemy – the judges of MasterChef UK.

For those who missed the whole food fight, you can catch up here.

The fight also called to question the origin of rendang – is it Malaysian or Indonesian? The answer is… are you kidding? We’re not getting in the middle of that.

During that moment of unity, it’s hard to imagine that these two neighbours were themselves having a culinary conflict in 2009.

Singaporeans had always considered chilli crab their national dish, along with chicken rice.

Even the official Visit Singapore webpage cites the dish’s humble beginnings from a pushcart in 1956 and calls chilli crab “among Singapore’s greatest culinary inventions.”

So imagine everyone’s surprise when the Malaysian Tourism Minister was quoted in a local newspaper as saying, “We cannot continue to let other countries hijack our food. Chilli crab is Malaysian. Hainanese chicken rice is Malaysian. We have to lay claim to our food.”

While she never mentioned Singapore by name, it was pretty clear who she meant.

Singaporean netizens went online to rigorously reclaim their national dishes but the conflict was short-lived because Malaysians weren’t putting up too much of a fight – there were also puzzled by the Minister’s claims.

As with all online furores, this issue eventually simmered down.

Read on for these other famous food fights

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