Regional Products In Malaysian Culture Cultural Studies Essay

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Regional foods are characterized as "regional products" (high-value, speciality or hand-crafted products) and "regional recipes" (dishes readily associated with home preparation and cooking). (British Food Journal, 99/6 [1997] 199-206). Malaysia has a wide range of unique cooking styles results of various ethnic cultures that people always share and try the flavors, ingredients and cooking methods from or with each other. Malaysia's population really love and appreciate the various types and flavours of food. Not surprisingly, if one is willing to drive hours to a remote place just to enjoy a delicious bowl of noodles or something special. Every state in Malaysia has a unique cuisine to be enjoyed.

Kuala Lumpur as a big city offers a choice of different dishes most in the world. People is able to enjoy a meal created by skilled chef in a fancy restaurant or try a variety of dishes available at the shopping mall, shops and street stalls. Negeri Melaka offers Baba Nyonya dishes at the very interesting cafe and usually located in old historic buildings. Penang is famous for 'Nasi Kandar' and people just have to wait for an empty table to enjoy these delicious dishes. Ipoh city for example, frequently visited by back-to-day visitors who go there just to enjoy the delicious local cuisine. Kelantan Malay culture which is the art and culture centre also serves a variety of exotic Malay food and various in flavours and colours. In selecting places or restaurants to dine, a tip to remember is to choose a place or a restaurant which is frequently visited by locals because the food definitely very tasty and delicious. A wide variety of food choices that are available in Malaysia has been known throughout the world as Malaysian food.

Nowadays, people especially youngsters do not know about regional food because of the increased availability of a variety of convenience foods. In addition, younger generations were generally believed to be spending less time on preparing and cooking foods. These activities were considered as time consuming activities with regard to regional food and lack of basic cookery skills.

The emerging food trends affect the choice of food and food consumption decisions that individuals make. These include foods that taste good because they are fresh, particularly fruits and vegetables; convenient foods which are quick and easy to prepare; ethnic foods with distinctive ingredients, flavours, and spices that offer variety or fusion foods that combine ethnic cuisine.

Food is also one of the cultural traits that humans learn first from childhood, and consumers will change this culture trait with the greatest reluctance at older age. The convenience-oriented lifestyle, and the relative wealth of consumers today, especially in developed societies or in urban area, result into more people eating out in restaurants or consuming more convenience and prepared foods, therefore being more exposed to new food options and developing a comfort level with them accompanying developing technologies nowadays.

Changes in lifestyle and values are relevant for food consumption and the trends in food preferences. The changes of simple traditional dishes have been prepared from raw products in the household with refined and now produced in food industry. Next, the disappearing seasonal cycle in food consumption and a trend towards exotic or ethnic food. The most involved regional or traditional food consumer segments tend to be younger, working and living predominantly in major metropolitan areas, cities and suburbs. For these consumers, traditional or ethnic foods not only provide adventure but also emotional mobility. They are willing transported with the aroma and flavour to places they wish they could be rather than try to prepare the dishes and serve to the lovely ones. They prefer to evoke memories of vacations to exotic locations or it reflects and strengthens friendships and openness to new cultures.

The information about regional food must be spread out to inform people what is local food actually and helps to preserve the originality of the food. This may contribute to help the local tourism industry based on where the exact location and where the food is available, such as resorts or restaurants in particular that is giving. In fact, in order to popularizing the traditional recipes of some dishes are more memorable by the present generation. Obviously this effort also responded to government campaigns to foster the spirit of thrift and increase domestic resources on the daily menu as the main materials used in each recipe is cheap and easily available.

OBJECTIVE

This paper has two main objectives. First, the purpose of this paper is to review consumer perceptions of regional foods in Malaysia and to provide basic information about consumer perceptions and understanding of regional foods. This study also aims to assess the relationship of places and dishes and the degree of awareness and satisfaction towards regional foods.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Investigation and analysis of food choosing, purchase and consumption is proper documented within the discipline of consumer behaviour. Studies in this area tend to emphasis the complexity of factors which pointing food-related tastes and preferences, and some authors have proposed models which attempt to classified and integrate these factors and so offer perception into the formation of food preferences and choices. Shepherd [1] provides an analysis of such models, from Yudkin [2], which suggests physical, social and physiological factors, to Booth and Shepherd [3] which summarises the processes influencing, and resulting from food assumption, and lists factors related to the food, the individual and the environment. However, none of these models affiliates a consideration of the role of place in food, and consumer perceptions of this feature.

It may be noted that, by their very nature, food products have a land-based geographical origin [4], which would propose that people readily make strong correlations between certain foods and geographical locations. On the other hand, the process of "delocalisation" of the food system in the twentieth century, as described by Montanari [5], has diminished the traditional region and symbolic links between foods and places. The consequence is that the concept of regionality in foods may no longer be significant or interesting to the modern food consumer, who is faced with such a wide array of exotic and international products all year round. Thus it may be that in the mind of the consumer, particular names, manufacture methods or presentational forms of specific foods are no longer related with the regional areas from which they originate. An opposing view is taken by Driver [6] however, who describes a resurrection in the interest in traditional regional dishes in the UK, which perhaps portrays the symbolic importance that particular foods have in our lives and culture. These discussions emphasize the need for empirical study of consumers' perceptions and understandings of regionality in food.

Linked to this discussion of the discern meaning of regionality in foods is the concept of authenticity. If regional foods are linked in some means to "origins" and "tradition", it implies that manufacturers of regional foods get involved in preparing and communicating intangible features of heritage, tradition and authenticity in their product offerings. These require systematic management, particularly in view of author such as MacCannell [7] who, correlation primarily to tourist experiences, underline the difficulty in interpreting what is authentic, and in communicating this to an increasingly sophisticated and various audiences of consumers. In relation to regional foods, information is needed for consumer perceptions of appropriate characteristics of products, which are the most interesting and why.

REFERENCES (LR):

Shepherd, R. (1989). Factors Influencing Food Preference. Handbook of the Psychophysiology of Human Eating. R. Shepherd. London, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 3-24.

Yudkin, J. (1956). Man's choice of food. Lancet i, 645-649.

Booth, D. A. and R. Shepherd (1988). Sensory influences on food acceptance: the neglected approach to nutrition promotion. British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin 13, 39-54.

Bérard, L. and P. Marchenay (1995). Lieux, Temps, et Preuves: la Construction Sociale des Produits de Terroir. Terrain 24, 153-164.

Montanari, M. (1994). The Culture of Food. Oxford, Blackwell.

Driver, C. (1983). The British at Table 1940-1980. London, Chatto and Windus - The Hogarth Press.

MacCannell, D. (1989). The Tourist. London, Macmillan.

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