Memories of traditional food culture in the kampong setting in Singapore

De Xuan Xiong, Iain A. Brownlee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
451 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Singapore is a metropolitan city state that has rapidly transitioned from residents living in traditional multicultural villages known as kampongs to one of the most population-dense and technologically advanced countries in the world. This study aimed to explore the framework of traditional food culture, beliefs and practice in Singaporeans who grew up in kampongs via questionnaire-based interviews. Methods: A convenience sample of participants (n = 34) were recruited through word-of-mouth and interviewed both face to face (n = 29) and by telephone (n = 5). Interviews were conducted in English, Mandarin, and Hokkien using a semistructured questionnaire that included themes preidentified from an exhaustive literature search. Results: A conceptual framework of five major themes was noted as a result of respondent input and the preidentified structural themes of the questionnaire. These were self-sustenance and farming, food and water safety, food and beverage retail, dietary habits and culinary practice, and a culture of sharing (or gotong royong). Of these themes, 64% (n = 22) of participants had noted collecting or maintaining fruit and vegetables or rearing chickens. Participants (29%, n = 10) also noted memories of traditional food storage techniques, general feedback which suggested relatively low levels of concern for food safety. Conclusions: Many of these kampong food practices from a kampong were fondly remembered by participants. Consideration of positive food values from early life (such as a strong culture of sharing and togetherness) could help in the development of government drives to improve dietary intake or benefit food security for older Singaporeans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ethnic Foods
Issue number2
Early online date5 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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