Session Abstract: As transnational flows intensified in the twentieth century, Asian diets received drastic makeovers. Shifting geopolitics and local conditions redirected foodways and food ingredients changed with state directives and commercial considerations. Taking a multi-site approach, this panel covers the diets of Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong upon which international forces from within and beyond the region exerted tremendous influence. Focusing on the foreign supplies of beef, Mitsuda takes a social and cultural historical approach and examines how Japanese consumers developed a taste for the meat. Through his study of the Vegetable Marketing Organization, Ng reveals how the colonial government of Hong Kong strategically conjured up a famine scenario and monopolized the distribution of vegetables for the urban population. Adding a taste enhancer to the mix, Stevens investigates how soy sauce businesses in Singapore reflect the changing priorities around food, industrial production, and tradition in the city-state. A meal is not complete with a beverage. Turning to an economical milk beverage made from American and New Zealand surpluses, Wong shows how global politics primed the manufacturing and consumption of reconstituted milk in Hong Kong from mid-1950s to the 1960s and contributed to the popularization of milk beverage in post-war Hong Kong. Anthropologist Melissa L. Caldwell will serve as the panel's discussant.
The panel would like to acknowledge the sponsorship of the Hong Kong Research Grants Council for certain projects presented here (GRF 17604617; CRF C7011-16G).
Paper Presenter: John D. Wong – HKIHSS, The University of Hong Kong
Paper Presenter: Tatsuya Mitsuda – Keio University
Paper Presenter: Michael Ng – Hong Kong University
Paper Presenter: Hallam Stevens – Nanyang Technological University