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美食考究:马来西亚的国菜是这个吗?

Where is Malaysia's national dish?
美食考究:马来西亚的国菜是这个吗?

It’s clear why nasi lemak is Malaysia’s (unofficial) national dish.

显然,椰浆饭(nasi lemak)是马来西亚的国菜。

Ask any Malaysian why they love nasi lemak (“rich rice”), and you’ll instantly get a variety of responses. Many associate it with the comforting tastes and smells of their childhood, while others point to its amalgam of flavours and textures that underscore a good Malaysian meal: spicy, savoury, creamy, sweet, soft and crunchy. Malaysians themselves admit that nothing unites this multicultural nation better than their food, making nasi lemak not just part of their cuisine, but part of their common identity.

要问马来西亚人为何喜欢椰浆饭,立刻会得到各种回答。许多人把椰浆饭与童年的味道和气味联系起来。也有人说,椰浆饭混合的味道和质地,正是一顿好的马来西亚餐所必须的:辛辣味、咸味、奶油味和甜味混杂在一起,柔软且松脆。马来西亚人自己也承认,没有什么能比食物更能把这个多元文化的国家团结在一起了。因此,椰浆饭不仅是他们的美食,也代表了他们的共同身份。
 

“This is the first Malay dish my immigrant mother [from India] learned to cook,” said Nages Sieslack, a first-generation Malaysian. “It is simple, yet unique. You can have or serve it any time of the day, and you can never go wrong.”

第一代马来西亚人西斯拉克(Nages Sieslack)说:“我母亲从印度移民到这里,这是她学会的第一道马来菜。做法很简单,但味道很独特。任何时候都可以享用,永远不会有错。”

Malaysia’s quintessential nasi lemak bungkus (“wrapped”), served at roadside stalls or food trucks, consists of rice steamed in coconut milk and aromatic pandan leaves, served with a fiery sambal (chilli paste), fried peanuts and anchovies, sliced cucumber and a halved hard-boiled egg. This is tightly wrapped into a pyramid shape in a double layer of banana leaf and old newspaper or brown wax paper. Patrons can also choose from an assortment of side dishes like beef rendang (non-crispy, indubitably), spiced fried chicken or assorted seafood sides.

马来西亚最有代表性的叶包椰浆饭(nasi lemak bungkus)通常在路边摊或食品卡车上兜售。这道菜由椰奶蒸饭、香斑斓叶、辣椒酱、炸花生凤尾鱼、黄瓜片和半个煮鸡蛋共同构成。用双层的香蕉叶和旧报纸(或棕色蜡纸)紧紧包裹成金字塔形状。顾客还可以选择各种配菜,如牛肉巴东,五香炸鸡或各种海鲜配菜。

Although commonly eaten for breakfast, nasi lemak’s 24/7 availability makes it a go-to meal during the day as well as a post-clubbing snack, with some claiming it’s a good cure for hangovers. A common sight in most towns or cities is Malaysians of all stripes seated at foldable Formica tables on “five-foot ways” (covered walkways in front of shops) getting their nasi lemak fix.

椰浆饭常被当成早餐,但全天都有供应,令得它成为一天中的必点餐,也可以是酒后小吃。一些人称它是醒酒的好办法。在大多数城镇,随处可见这样的景象:各色马来西亚人坐在“五英尺道”(商店前的人行道)的折叠塑料制餐桌前,享用着椰浆饭。

While the origins of nasi lemak are difficult to pinpoint, it has long been part of Malay food culture in Peninsular Malaysia, mentioned in 1909 in The Circumstances of Malay Life, written by British scholar and Malaya expert Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt, who detailed how Malay farmers and fishermen cooked rice in coconut milk as well as the different condiments they ate it with.

椰浆饭的起源很难搞清楚。英国学者温斯泰德(Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt)也研究马来西亚历史,他在1909年著有《马来西亚生活》(The Circumstances of Malay Life)一书,书中提到,很长时间以来,椰浆饭都是马来西亚半岛上的马来饮食文化中的一部分。书中还详细说明了马来农民和渔民在椰奶中煮米饭,拌着不同的调料品。

Over time, other ethnic groups adopted and adapted the dish, with Chinese enthusiasts offering non-halal pork versions while predominantly Hindu Indians reach for chicken sides.

随着时间推移,其他少数民族也接受并适应了这道菜。中国人用猪肉做出了非清真的椰浆饭,而信仰印度教的印度人用鸡排做出了椰浆饭。

But nasi lemak is still mostly associated with Malaysia (and by default Singapore, since Singapore was part of the country from 1963 to 1965), where it has evolved to become a street food classic and national staple beloved and championed by locals.

但椰浆饭仍然主要与马来西亚联系在一起(默认与新加坡有关,因为新加坡在1963年至1965年是马来西亚的一部分)。在那里,椰浆饭发展成了深受当地人喜爱的街头美食经典,并成了全国主食。

“Older generations of Malaysians can’t remember a time when there wasn’t nasi lemak,” said food historian Ahmad Najib Ariffin, founder of the Nusantara Academy of Development, Geocultures & Ethnolinguistics that focuses on culture, tradition and heritage in South-East Asia. “Pretty much everyone [in Malaysia] says that ‘Yes, we’ve had nasi lemak, like, forever’. And they say that even their own grandparents had nasi lemak too. That shows you that it is a part of Malaysian food history. It’s been around for so long, it [has] permeated everywhere in Peninsula Malaysia.

食物历史学家阿里芬(Ahmad Najib Ariffin)说:“马来西亚的老一代人都不记得没有椰浆饭的时候了。几乎每个人(在马来西亚)都这样说,‘我们很久以前就有椰浆饭了,好像一直都有。’”他们说,连祖父母都吃过椰浆饭。这说明椰浆饭是马来西亚食物历史的一部分,已经存在了很长时间,渗透到马来西亚半岛的每一个角落。

Recent years have seen some bizarre innovations of the beloved dish. Nasi lemak-inspired curry puffs, ice cream, chocolate and even condoms have all had their run. Suffice it to say, reactions from purists tend to be variations of, “No, just no”.

近年来,这道深受人们喜爱的菜肴有了奇异的创新做法。以椰浆饭为灵感产生了咖喱泡芙、冰淇淋、巧克力,甚至避孕套,风靡一时。简单来说,纯粹主义者往往不承认椰浆饭的变体,他们说:“不行,就是不行。”

Perhaps the choicest words were reserved for the Malaysian who dreamed up a rather unusual variation and dared share it on Twitter: nasi lemak topped with melted grated cheese. One response put it succinctly: “There’s a special place in hell for those who mix nasi lemak with cheese.”

也许这位马来西亚人最有发言权,他想出了不寻常的做法,并大胆地在Twitter上分享:将奶酪磨碎、融化,覆盖在椰浆饭上。有人这样回应是:“地狱里有一个专门为那些把炒饭和奶酪混在一起的人准备的地方。”

“The only limit today is the imagination,” Ariffin said. “I have to admit that some of [the innovations] are outlandish. You couldn’t claim ice cream or chocolates as nasi lemak in the traditional sense. However, I appreciate innovation. And whenever I see something like that, I do pay good money to try them. That is why those are usually trendy things – not permanent products."

阿里芬说:“当今只有想象力才能限制手艺。我必须承认,有些(创新做法)很古怪。你不能把冰淇淋或巧克力称为传统意义上的椰浆饭。但我欣赏创新。每当看到这样的东西,我都会花很多钱去尝试。这就是为什么那些东西通常很时髦的东西,但不能永存。”

While most locals view these spins on the original with bemusement, their outrage is reserved for when Singapore tries to get a piece of the nasi lemak action. Although Malaysians acknowledge the interconnected food history among South-East Asian – and specifically Nusantara (Malay diaspora) – nations, they’re not often as magnanimous with the little red dot down south.

大多数马来西亚当地人对这些创新感到困惑,但他们对新加坡企图从创作椰浆饭中分一杯羹的行为感到愤怒。尽管马来西亚人承认东南亚国家(特别是散居海外的马来人)之间相互关联的食品历史,但他们对南部的小地方并不那么宽容。

Squabbling over food is almost a national pastime for Singapore and Malaysia, two food-loving nations that were once a single political entity. Tug-of-wars over chilli crab, Hainanese chicken rice and cendol or rendang (with Indonesia occasionally making it a three-cornered fight) have occurred repeatedly over the years. And the long-simmering distaste for Singapore being given or claiming credit for “Malaysian-origin” dishes occasionally boils over, resulting in impassioned social media spats.

对于新加坡和马来西亚这两个热爱食物的国家来说,为食物争吵几乎成了全国性的休闲活动。这两个国家曾经是单一政体。多年来,围绕辣子蟹、海南鸡饭和珍多冰(cendol)或仁当(也称巴东,印尼偶尔会把它变成一场三角战争)的拉锯战不断发生。对新加坡将菜肴声称为“源自马来西亚”的行为长期感到厌恶,这种情绪有时爆发出来,大家在社交媒体上激烈争吵。

Nasi lemak is the dish currently in the firing line, with new versions usually being unveiled around the time of both countries’ Independence Day celebrations in August.

椰浆饭是目前备受关注的菜肴,新型椰浆饭通常在两国8月独立日庆祝活动期间推出。

In 2017, to commemorate Singapore’s National Day on 9 August, McDonald’s Singapore unveiled the Nasi Lemak Burger: a coconut-flavoured chicken thigh patty, fried egg, caramelised onions and cucumber slices topped with sambal sauce served between semolina buns, which some Malaysians saw as an appropriation of “their” dish.

2017年,为了纪念新加坡国庆节(8月9日),新加坡麦当劳推出了椰浆饭汉堡:夹着椰子味的鸡腿肉饼、煎蛋、焦糖洋葱和黄瓜片,上面浇上参巴酱,夹在小麦粉面包中间。一些马来西亚人认为,这种做法盗用了他们菜谱。

Egged on by their countrymen, Malaysian burger joint myBurgerLab created the Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang burger to commemorate Malaysia’s own Independence Day on 31 August 2017. A provocative tweet prior to its launch featured a picture of the burger in front of a Malaysian flag with the text: “Dear Singapore, nice try, but …”. Some Singaporeans retorted, “Copycats”; while others wryly remarked that Malaysia’s issue should be with McDonalds rather than Singapore. The burger became such a hit that what was originally a temporary special became part of the regular myBurgerLab menu.

马来西亚汉堡连锁店 myBurgerLab 在国人怂恿下,于2017年8月31日推出了椰浆饭和仁当咖喱鸡混合的汉堡,以纪念马来西亚独立日。汉堡推出之前,这家连锁店在推特上发布了一张颇具挑衅的照片。照片中,汉堡摆在一面马来西亚国旗前,文字写道:“亲爱的新加坡,做得不错,但是……”一些新加坡人反驳说,这种行为是“盲目模仿”;而另一些人则挖苦地说,马来西亚的问题应该是麦当劳,而不是新加坡。这款汉堡大受欢迎,原本只是一道临时性的特色菜,现在也成了myBurgerLab 的常规菜单。

Then in August 2018, when Singapore nominated its hawker culture (comprising more than 100 indoor communal dining spaces where chefs serve multicultural food – including nasi lemak) for Unesco listing, hackles were raised across the causeway, with Malaysian celebrity chef Redzuawan Ismail (better known as Chef Wan) branding the nomination “arrogant”, and adding that “people who lack confidence in their food will go all out to do these things for recognition.”

接着,在2018年8月,当新加坡将其小贩文化提名入围联合国教科文组织清单(包括椰浆饭),愤怒之火被点燃了。其中,马来西亚名厨伊斯梅尔(Redzuawan Ismail,俗称为“旺师傅”)将此次提名称为“傲慢之举”。他说:“对食物缺乏自信的人才会用尽全力寻找认可。”

Malaysians were once again miffed this year, when streaming giant Netflix, passed up their eclectic cuisine to feature Singapore instead in its Street Food (Asia) series. In response, a local Malaysian radio station teamed up with Nazrudin Habibur Rahman, the host of long-running local food show Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan (“Scouting Around For Food”). Using the hashtag #BersatuForMakan (#UniteForFood), they lobbied for a street food video they produced ­– which included the famous Nasi Lemak Tanglin stall in Kuala Lumpur – to be featured in the Netflix series.

今年,马来西亚人又一次被惹恼了,因为流媒体巨头网飞(Netflix)用新加坡作为其亚洲街头美食(Street Food Asia)系列节目的主题,而不是马来西亚五花八门的美食。一家马来西亚地方电台与当地长期举办美食秀的主持人拉赫曼(Nazrudin Habibur Rahman)共同对此做出回应,他们以#为食物团结(#UniteForFood)为标签,兜售他们制作的街头美食视频,希望出现在网飞的剧集中。视频中出现了吉隆坡著名的椰浆饭摊位。

But is nasi lemak unequivocally “Malaysian”? Given scant food history records in this region, no-one can say for sure.

椰浆饭确实是马来西亚创作出来的吗?由于这个地区很少有食物历史记录,没有人能确定。

Najib contends that while rice cooked in coconut milk isn’t itself unique to Malaysia, the type of nasi lemak served here, with its particular constellation of condiments, is uniquely Malaysian. “You do not have this type of nasi lemak in other parts of South-East Asia,” he said.

阿里芬认为,虽然用椰奶做的米饭并非马来西亚独有的,但这里供应的椰浆饭是马来西亚独有的,里面有各种调料。他说:“在东南亚其他地方找不到这种椰浆饭。”

Others are slightly more circumspect about laying sole claim to a dish with close cousins – albeit with tweaks in ingredients, condiments and taste – around South-East Asia.

尽管东南亚地区的不同种类椰浆饭在配料、调料和口味上有所不同,还有人在做出评价时稍微谨慎一些。

“I cannot comment if nasi lemak is in the history books of Malaysia. But we can say that wherever there are Malays, nasi lemak is common food like in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore,” said Mohammad Nazri Samsuddin, third-generation manager of Nasi Lemak Wanjo in Kuala Lumpur, who serves up nasi lemak with sides like sambal squid and retains Malay traditions like steaming the rice in specially manufactured wood steamers.

在吉隆坡的Nasi Lemak Wanjo餐厅工作的第三代经理穆罕默德(Mohammad Nazri Samsuddin)说:“我不能评论椰浆饭是否出现在马来西亚的历史书中。但是可以说,不管是在马来西亚的马来人,还是在印度尼西亚、文莱和新加坡的马来人,椰浆饭是很常见的食物。”穆罕默德将椰浆饭与辣椒酱鱿鱼搭配在一起,这种在专有木材上蒸米饭的方法保留了马来传统。

Indeed, versions of nasi lemak can be found scattered across the region, from north Sumatra – where it’s served with serundeng (spicy fried coconut flakes), sambal udang (prawn and cubed potatoes cooked in chili sauce) and telor balado (hard-boiled eggs cooked in chilli sauce) – to the southern Thailand town of Betong, where it’s accompanied by tom yam sauce (a hot and sour Thai soup usually cooked with shrimp).

的确,在马来西亚可以找到不同种类的椰浆饭。比如,北苏门答腊有椒盐椰子片(serundeng)、伴着虾米和熟土豆制成的辣椒酱(sambal udang),再配上辣鸡蛋(telor balado);泰国南部小镇勿洞(Betong)会配上冬阴功汤煮大虾(tom yam sauce)。

“Nasi lemak is a Nusantara favourite! So many names, so many variations across geography and culture, it would be almost blasphemous [to claim it as solely Malaysian]. If we ever do, be prepared for the next crescendo of ‘Ganyang Malingsia’ [a term coined by Indonesians referring to what they claim as Malaysia’s appropriation of their culture] from across the Malacca Straits!” Rahman joked.

拉赫曼开玩笑说:“椰浆饭是努桑塔拉人(Nusantara)的最爱!因地理位置和文化差异出现了各种名字,如果称椰浆饭只属于马来西亚,那几乎是亵渎了椰浆饭。如果真要如此,那就准备好迎接马六甲海峡另一边的反击吧!”

Ariffin agrees. Given that the Malay Archipelago has witnessed a history of cross-influence, cross-migration and intermarriage, he believes it would be disingenuous for any one country to claim first dibs on a dish that predates present national boundaries.

阿里芬同意这种说法。考虑到马来群岛见证了一段相互影响、跨国移民和异族通婚的历史,他认为,任何一个国家要求对一道菜拥有优先权,都是不诚实的,因为这道菜的历史要早于现在的国界。

“We forget that Singapore and Malaysia are like brother and sister. I always like to mention that we had a common parent. If parents bequeathed to their children the same recipe, no sibling can say that this is only mine,” said Ariffin, who has family on both sides of the causeway.

“我们忘记了,新加坡和马来西亚就像兄妹。我总爱说,我们有共同的父母。如果父母把同样的配方传给了孩子,没有任何一个兄弟姐妹可以据为己有。”

Perhaps ultimately, it may not be about where a dish originated, but who has the best marketing chops.

也许最终,这不是一道菜的起源问题,而是谁拥有最好的营销能力。

“Where we’ve been second best, admittedly, is capitalising on our unique melting pot. Slick marketing was the winner for Singapore. From poaching the right opportunities in producing global content (ie, Netflix) to poaching the ‘right’ exposure on a global platform (ie, Crazy Rich Asians), I take my hat off to our neighbours. That is something we can learn from them,” Rahman said.

拉赫曼说:“不可否认,我们没能更好的利用这个独特的大熔炉文化。精明的营销手段让新加坡成为赢家。我向这个邻居脱帽致敬,他们不仅从制作全球内容中寻找合适的机会,还在全球平台上寻找合适的曝光机会。这是我们可以从中学到的东西。”

Yet, Rahman sees ample potential in Malaysian fare getting its fair share of plaudits. “We must produce and tell our own stories. Good stories that reflect our culture, through our cuisine. If we don’t tell our stories, who will? Singapore, that’s who,” he said.

然而,拉赫曼看到了马来西亚市场的巨大潜力,并得到了公平的赞誉。他说:“我们必须制作并讲述自己的故事。通过烹饪反映文化的好故事。如果我们不讲,那谁会讲?新加坡就是这样。”

And maybe Malaysia will yet have the final word on nesi lemak.

也许马来西亚会对椰浆饭做出最后裁定。

In conjunction with Independence Day on 31 August this year, McDonalds Malaysia brought what could be the parting shot to the debate. A cheeky YouTube ad with the tagline “Nothing comes between Malaysians and their nasi lemak”, implied that the fast food giant’s own nasi lemak bested even the best that Singapore could offer. Then, to mark Malaysia Day on 16 September, the company initiated a change.org petition to collect 100,000 signatures to have nasi lemak declared Malaysia’s national dish. (They didn’t hit their target.)

结合今年8月31日的独立日,马来西亚麦当劳进行了最后一博。YouTube上,一则广告语称“马来西亚人和椰浆饭紧密无间”,暗示了这家快餐巨头的做法击败了新加坡最好的椰浆饭。接着,为了纪念9月16日的马来日,该公司在change.org网站上发起请愿,征集了10万个签名,要求将椰浆饭定为马来西亚的国菜。(他们最终没有达到目的)

“It was something that McDonald’s Malaysia wanted to do for our fellow rakyat (citizens), because, while we have recognised the popularity of nasi lemak amongst Malaysians, it still remains a mystery why Malaysia has yet to have a national dish,” said Melati Abdul Hai, vice president and chief marketing officer of McDonald’s Malaysia.

马来西亚麦当劳的副总裁兼首席营销官说阿海(Melati Abdul Hai)说:“这是马来西亚麦当劳想为市民做的服务,因为,即便我们承认椰浆饭在马来西亚非常普遍,也没有定论,这成了一个谜。”

She denied, however, that this was a marketing gimmick to cash in on the “food wars”, explaining that Malaysians have been, and will always be, passionate about their food, and that at the core, food should bring people together.

不过,她认为这不是一种利用“食物战争”赚钱的营销花招。她解释说,马来西亚人一直、而且将永远对他们的食物充满热情,而食物的核心意义应该在于,让人们团结在一起。

“In a way I commend them for trying to make something ‘unofficial’, official. On the other hand, I also think it might antagonise Singapore… maybe,” Ariffin said.

阿里芬说:“在某种程度上,我赞扬他们把‘非官方’的东西定为官方。另一方面,我也觉得可能会激怒新加坡……也许吧。”

Malaysians themselves admit that nothing unites them better than their rich cuisine. Perhaps it’s because food might be one of the few remaining identity markers left untainted in this melting pot, where discord is often stirred by the politicising of ethnic and religious differences.

马来西亚人自己也承认,没有什么比丰富的美食更能让他们团结在一起。也许是因为,在这个大熔炉里,食物代表了身份的一部分。在这个熔炉里,种族和宗教差异的政治化常常会引发不和。

Ultimately, one could argue that nasi lemak is not just a simple rice dish. It’s a shared national identity. And sometimes that is territory best left untouched.

最终,有人可能会说,椰浆饭不仅是一道简单的饭食。它是一个共享的国家身份。最好,不要轻易触碰。
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