Sunday, September 20, 2009

Unique Foods?

Gosh... the war between Singapore and Malaysia is definitely heating up.. with some Datuk Seri claiming that Malaysian foods have been hijacked.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said there were many dishes synonymous with Malaysia’s identity but they had been “hijacked” by other countries.

“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,” she told reporters after launching the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival yesterday.

The festival, which runs throughout October, is part of the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia campaign. Novem-ber’s part of the campaign will centre around shopping mall food, while street and heritage food will be the highlight in December.

“In the three months, we will identify certain key dishes (to declare as Malaysian). We have identified laksa ... all types of laksa, nasi lemak and bak kut teh,” she said.

When asked how the ministry would go about labelling the dishes Malaysian after identifying them, Dr Ng said she would reveal her strategy at a later stage.

“That is Part Two. We cannot reveal it yet, but we will let you know soon,” she said.

Just how patented can a food product be?? Afterall, foods are composed mainly of other ingredients and are just merely a combination of ingredients. This just reminds me of the Coca Cola vs Pespi issue:

Back in the early 1930's, Coca-Cola and Pepsi (then, and now, known as "PepsiCo") battled it out in court over the name usage of "Cola" and the "recipe" for the "cola" being made by both companies. As you should also know, Coca-Cola Company goes back to the late 1800's and at the time of the "battle" between these companies, PepsiCo was a fairly new upstart company trying to slice away at some of Coca-Cola's "monopoly", as it were.

Suffice it to say, Coca-Cola lost the battle, fighting these issues all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Basically, the High Court agreed with the lower courts that the word "cola" was sufficiently "generic" (and also described the nut itself) that Coca-Cola could not trademark that portion of it's name; hence, there are many "colas" on the market, and Pepsi Cola is still with us today. As far as the "recipe" was concerned, the High Court, once again, dealt Coca-Cola a slap on the face by deciding, and again, agreeing with the lower courts, that the recipe itself was not subject to patent or copyright. Again, PepsiCo, along with many other "cola" companies, while trying their best to replicate the Coca-Cola flavor, are still with us, but have never been completely successful in replicating the taste of Coca-Cola, despite fervent efforts to do so.

So how can one ever say that Hainanese Chicken Rice or other foods are hijacked from Malaysia?

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