Singapore: a city, an island, a modern Asian nation. This captivating country at the crossroads of Southeast Asia has multiple identities, countless mysteries and a culture woven from many threads. Now a bustling, orderly metropolis with one of the busiest ports in Asia, Singapore has long been a magnet for people seeking opportunity.

The British added Singapore to their crown in 1819, when a young merchant named Thomas Stamford Raffles saw its potential as a trading post and established a British port there. With its prime position on the tip of the Malay Peninsula, on the main sea route between two oceans, Singapore thrived as a commercial outpost, luring Southern Chinese traders and laborers and, later, Indian immigrants. These new arrivals intermarried with the native Malay people, provoking a slow, natural fusion of cultures, religions, architectural style and cuisines. Today, the glamorous Raffles hotel preserves the memory of the visionary who saw Singapore’s potential, and the city’s famous hawker centers preserve the dishes that have emerged from this unique melting pot.

KF Seetoh, the author of a popular guide to Singaporean street food and restaurants, gives us a little background on his country’s culinary culture.

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