Eating is the national past time of Singaporeans, and with that dubious honour comes a whole host of strange rituals that accompany our dining. These odd habits came about from a mixture of factors – old wives’ tales, our predilection for spiciness, and just plain old technology. It might have gotten some weird stares at first, but now most of us can’t begin a meal properly without indulging in these rituals.

Foodies, an upcoming documentary about the fine dining subculture, shows us the bizarre habits of the food bloggers and fine diners. While not of all of us may be able to identify with that, we do know what Singaporeans do when they eat. So in the spirit of our nation’s upcoming birthday, here’s a list of uniquely Singaporean food habits!

1) There must always be a saucer of chilli sauce nearby

Regardless of whether it’s cut chilli with soya sauce, sambal chilli, or pre-mixed thick chilli sauce, there’s always one small dish of it on the table. When you’re at a hawker centre, it’s pure reflex to grab a small dish and drop some chilli sauce into it. Most of the time, we don’t even finish the chilli sauce. I’ve seen friend who will mechanically procure the chilli sauce with their food, only to dip it once and forget about it thereafter.

2) Rice must always have gravy drizzled over it

Case in point: curry over briyani rice. Credit: Serious Eats

Case in point: curry over briyani rice. Credit: Serious Eats

You can be eating nasi briyani or economy rice, and it’ll be the same. The server will ask what kind of gravy you’d like to bathe your rice in. Even if it’s flavoured rice (like in the case of briyani), there’ll still be some form of curry over it. There’s no doubting that rice goes well with any gravy though, so it’s a tasty habit nonetheless!

3) When sharing dishes, nobody will take the last piece

Dining with peers in Foodies. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Fine dining, alone, in Foodies. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

It’s usually the case when you’re eating with your elders, but nowadays, even when eating with peers, there’s always that courtesy piece left behind. I know it’s out of respect, but this becomes a case where manners trumps practicality. It’s still food! Everybody is eyeing that final morsel, but nobody dares to take it lest they be seen as disrespectful. So many a time, when the plates are cleared, that last piece will be left uneaten on the plate, consigned to the fate of the dustbin.

4) Used plates cannot be stacked up

It would be difficult to stack these dishes up in Foodies. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

It would be difficult to stack these dishes up in Foodies. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

This is especially so at Chinese eateries. Most people know not to do this, but it behooves them why. A quick Google search reveals that it represents repetition, meaning if you do that at a wedding, the bride and groom will remarry, or if you do that at a funeral, another person will pass away. But when you’ve got a tiny table (Singapore is land scarce after all) and many dishes, there’s just not enough space to have every plate on the table.

5) Your plate must be clean when you finish your meal

Finishing their meal in Foodies. Credits: Golden Village Pictures

Starting on a meal in Foodies. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Again, this is another old wives’ tale that claims that the number of grains of rice (or whatever dish you’re having) left behind on your plate will be the number of pimples your future spouse has. Whether or not you believe it, it has been ingrained into our collective mindsets to finish everything on our plate to prevent such a disaster. Oddly enough, even married couples will automatically follow this tradition.

But Singapore isn’t the only country to have such gastronomical oddities.

Foodies poster. Credits: Golden Village Pictures

Foodies poster. Credits: Golden Village Pictures

Our habits sound just like the strange ones in Foodies. It heartens us to know that strange food habits aren’t just limited to Singapore alone!

So catch Foodies exclusively at Golden Village Cinemas for more delicious details! Look out for an upcoming article featuring an exclusive interview with Foodies‘ director Thomas Jackson, on The Popping Post.

Sources: Golden Village Cinemas, Serious Eats