Penang draws raves from 2 top names in food
CALL it the icing on the cake for Penang after its capital Georgetown was ranked last year by Lonely Planet, the world's largest travel guidebook publisher, as the fourth top "must-travel-to" city in 2016 for tourists worldwide.
This time, the Malaysian island was endorsed by internationally renowned food writer James Oseland as one of the world's top destinations for food.
"If I have to choose the top three places in the world as food destinations, Penang would definitely be the first, followed by Mexico City and London," the American, who once headed Saveur magazine, told Malaysia's Bernama news agency in Georgetown.
Saveur is an award-winning gourmet food and travel magazine that specialises in world cuisines.
In his current visit to Penang, which is his fifth since 1982, Mr Oseland has found himself attracted chiefly to the Penang-style nasi campur, nasi kandar and hawker food such as chee cheong fun (rice noodle rolls).
Nasi campur is a dish that consists of rice and small portions of other food.
Nasi kandar is flavoured steamed rice served with curry or other dishes.
The 53-year-old is in Penang till tomorrow in search for what he considers to be Malaysia's best food to fit into his latest book.
The former journalist was amazed that the quality of Penang's food has remained unchanged despite the march of time, which has brought great changes to the island's environment and cityscape.
"It is wonderful how the food is being cooked; the atmosphere is simply amazing and the competition between eateries to serve the best food makes them maintain the quality," he said.
In his new book which should be published in the next two and a half years, Mr Oseland said he would focus on traditional home-cooked food as it was the best way to understand one's culture.
"As time passes, the young generation, especially, has no interest in learning the original recipes as people tend to take food for granted," he pointed out.
"That is why I want to document these recipes to ensure that the culture will live on."
Meanwhile, veteran Chinese food critic Chua Lam, who is based in Hong Kong, visited Penang last week.
He gave the thumbs up that Penang is probably the only place he knows that still maintains the traditional flavours of dishes.
"The young today are slowly not asking anymore for the best tastes in food," Kwong Wah Yit Poh quoted the 74-year-old as saying.
"Penang is the only place where I still can get food that tastes the same as in the past." AGENCIES