One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Taste is subjective. And thus labeling one type of food good while calling another bad is a surefire way to cop some flak.
On September 26, 2021, international food portal Taste Atlas – which regularly creates and maintains many global food lists – took to Instagram to post a graphic showing the best-rated foods from around Asia.
The graphic was careful to note that the ratings were based off the feedback of their audience, and not on the whims and fancies of a single person or even their own team.
Interestingly enough, the post saw Malaysia’s Sarawak Laksa come out on top, with an overall rating of 4.8 out of a maximum 5, and sat in the row labeled “Best” alongside other delicacies such as Iran’s Tahcin, and Japan’s Nabemono.
The next rung on the ladder was the “Great” tier, which consisted of dishes such as China’s Jiaozi, Japanese Sushi, and Roti from India. The “OK” tier on the graphic had Lebanese Ma’amoul, Japanese Mochi, and Chinese Spring Rolls, while the “Worst” tier with the lowest-rated foods consisted of India’s Baingan Bharta, Japan’s Zenzai, and Filipino Balut in dead last.
Labels to provoke.
Now, it’s easy to see how such a list could be seen as provocative – while it would be controversial enough to put numbered ratings on food items based on nationality, to place them into tiers like “Best” and “Worst” is simply taking things into risky territory.
On the Instagram post, many people were visibly upset with the rankings, with a large number of them unappreciative of some culture’s food items being called inferior to others.
“Y’all think it’s f***ed up that you call other people’s food culture ‘the worst’?” said one commenter.
“Balut shouldn’t be at the bottom!” said another, who joined a few others in defending the dish made primarily out of semi-incubated bird eggs.
Despite the backlash, it must be noted however, that the rankings are predicated on user ratings that change on a daily basis.
Looking at the list on Taste Atlas’ live website at the time of writing will show that Sarawak Laksa isn’t the top-rated food any longer (it’s in fact fallen all the way to 90th place following rating changes), with Tahcin now occupying the number one spot.
Let things remain subjective.
With the list appearing quite volatile, it’s probably worth mentioning that such lists about which foods are the best or the worst probably shouldn’t weigh too heavily on anyone’s culinary decision-making.
When going through the myriad of flavors all around the region, it’s easy to see that food is just one of those things that you cannot objectively place on a ranked list. Availability of ingredients, cultural and religious sensitivities, and climate all play an important role in such foodie diversity.
Sure, some of them – like Balut – may be acquired tastes, but as mentioned right at the start of this article: Taste is subjective.
As one Instagram user put it, “Asian food is way too diverse to be placed on a list”, and it’s probably worth thinking about such ratings as more of a flavor-of-the-month type of thing rather than an absolute list that dictates which country’s food is better when compared with another.
After all, if anyone wasn’t aware before, Asians are remarkably defensive about their dishes – even the obscure ones, and it’s already a well-known rule by now that nearly every popular dish in Asia will have a loyal following willing to defend it with their lives.
Now that we know there’s no real right or wrong when it comes to food, what’s the best dish according to you?
By : Dale John Wong – SEA.MASHABLE.COM