It’s Getting Hot in Here
Before you could say rendang-gate, #CrispyRendang started trending on social media.
Malaysians were, understandably, more involved seeing as how one of their own had been so publicly snubbed, and on a subject that was dear to their hearts.
For a moment in time, even political opponents set aside their differences to defend rendang’s honour.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak posted a picture of chicken rendang on Instagram and Twitter, with the comment, “Mana ada orang makan rendang ayam ‘crispy’?”, which translates to, “Who eats crispy chicken rendang?”
His political opponent in the upcoming elections, Dr Mahathir Mohamed, got in on the action too, tweeting: “Maybe you are confusing rendang chicken with KFC.”
Even the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vicki Treadell, explained on Twitter that rendang should never be crispy and that it should not be confused with fried chicken, which sometimes accompanies nasi lemak.
Adding Fuel to the Fire
Wallace never responded to the controversy but his fellow judge and partner-in-crime Torode let this tweet loose: “Maybe Rendang is Indonesian! Love this! Brilliant how excited you are all getting.. Namaste.”
We can all agree that that wasn’t so much an apology as a determined way to get out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Some people were also calling him out for using Namaste, which is a greeting more commonly used in India and not Indonesia.
Dousing the Flames
While things have certainly cooled down now, the culinary catfight has revealed that Asians take food very, very seriously.
The person in the firing line herself, Zaleha, did not engage.
She simply posted a picture of her dish on Instagram the day after the competition aired, with the caption: “My Nasi Lemak dish on MasterChef UK last night. So proud to have served this and will keep cooking the way my family loved them. No changing to a classic nations favourite.”
Apart from uniting several nations against one common enemy for a couple of weeks, the incident also prompted several brands to get creative with their social media marketing campaign.
Here are a couple of our favourites: Swedish furnishing company, Ikea, ran a picture of its Tolerant wok, with the caption: “Tolerates everything. Except ‘crispy’ rendang.”
KFC Malaysia also took a jab at the whole affair with a picture of their famous bucket of fried chicken, with the caption: “Not Rendang.”