Who would have guessed that the one thing that would finally unite Indonesians and Malaysians is the same dish that has divided the two country’s citizens for so long in the first place?
Indonesian and Malaysian netizens have seemingly put aside the long-fought argument over where rendang (meat, usually beef or chicken, slowly stewed over low heat in coconut milk and numerous spices) originated from in order to agree on an even more important matter: those judges on Masterchef UK don’t have a ren-dang clue about the two nations’ treasured dish.
In case you haven’t been following the culinary controversy of the day, a Malaysian native was eliminated in the latest episode of the famous BBC cooking competition after she served judges her chicken rendang dish. One judge, Gregg Wallace, riled up rendang aficionados everywhere when he said, “I like the rendang flavor, there’s a coconut sweetness, however, the chicken skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten and all the sauce is on the skin, I can’t eat.”
To be fair, we can’t expect all professional chefs from the west to be familiar with authentic rendang, never mind that it’s been ranked the most delicious dish in the world.
But despite the furore the crispy chicken rendang comment caused, the judges haven’t owned up to their mistakes. Co-judge John Torode even posted this tweet (now deleted), introducing another element of racism into the controversy because apparently Indonesians and Malaysians are the same as Indians who say “namaste”:
That then prompted Indonesian and Malaysian netizens to flood the Twittersphere with replies defending their traditions and cuisine against cultural ignorance, standing in solidarity in the name of rendang.
Trying to make Malaysians and Indonesians fight over the rendang? No, we will unite instead.
— Griffin Seannery 苏志桦 (@g_rentarou88) April 2, 2018
Come on John, you can do better! 😃 Namaste is an Indian greeting. Indonesia and India are two completely different countries. And bonjour to you! 👋🏼
— Sarah 素祝 (@sarahcooks) April 2, 2018
You've done something impossible by bringing Malaysian and Indonesian together in this issue
I am pretty sure our Singapore and Brunei fellow will join this cause
— Muhammad D. Bob (@Encik_AmirulBob) April 2, 2018
pretty sure no one makes rendang crispy. pretty sure Namaste is not malaysian or indonesian language. pretty sure you had KFC and some rendang gravy on top and thought it was authentic
— amy ariff (@amynariff) April 2, 2018
Isn’t harmony between neighbors beautiful? Just don’t bring up that dreaded question of which country gets to claim rendang as their national dish and we can all agree that everyone can have their own iterations for it (we’re no professional television cooking competition judges, but personally we think chicken rendang, crispy skin or otherwise, is an abomination; Padangnese beef rendang that’s slow cooked for at least several hours, or even a couple of days, until it’s dark and dry is obviously the far superior version).