'Mem' and 'Cookie': the colonial kitchen in Malaysia and Singapore



Publication Details

Leong-Salobir, C. Y. (2016). 'Mem' and 'Cookie': the colonial kitchen in Malaysia and Singapore. In I. Banerjee-Dube (Ed.), Cooking Cultures: Convergent Histories of Food and Feeling (pp. 79-99). Delhi, India: Cambridge University Press.


This article examines the history of colonial food practices in Malaysia and Singapore and of the contribution that Asian domestic servants made towards the development of this cuisine between the late nineteenth century to the mid- twentieth century. In particular it looks at the relationship between the British colonial mistress - 'mem' and the servant cook - 'Cookie' and how this interaction contributed towards the emergence of the colonial cuisine. Using a broad range of primary source evidence in colonial cookbooks, diaries, travelogues and colonial foodway historians, this article looks at the unique dishes peculiar to the colonial cuisine that had origins in British India: curry, mulligatawny, kedgeree, chicken chop, pish pash and the inimitable meal of tiffin.

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