A/Prof. John Wong1, A/Prof. Hallam Stevens2, Dr. Tatsuya Mitsuda3, A/Prof. Michael Ng1
1The University of Hong Kong, , Hong Kong, 2Nanyang Technological University , , Singapore, 3Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
As transnational flows intensified in the twentieth century, Asian diets received drastic makeovers. Shifting geopolitics and local conditions redirected foodways and food ingredients changed with state directives and commercial considerations. Taking a multi-site approach, this panel covers the diets of Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong upon which international forces from within and beyond the region exerted tremendous influence. Focusing on the foreign supplies of beef, Mitsuda takes a social and cultural historical approach and examines how Japanese consumers developed a taste for the meat. Through his study of the Vegetable Marketing Organization, Ng reveals how the colonial government of Hong Kong strategically conjured up a famine scenario and monopolized the distribution of vegetables for the urban population. Adding a taste enhancer to the mix, Stevens investigates how soy sauce businesses in Singapore reflect the changing priorities around food, industrial production, and tradition in the city state. A meal is not complete with a beverage. Wong turns to the production and marketing in Hong Kong of a milk beverage reconstituted from milk powder and show how a business enterprise created a reasonably priced product billed for health benefits for an upwardly mobile population in a city experiencing economic takeoff.