The internet is collectively losing their mind at the latest attempt to “re-brand” eastern food for the western market. Yesterday a Nyonya Cooking advertisement depicting roti canai renamed the south-east Asian dish, “Asian flat croissant” was shared on Twitter.
Understandably, the response was swift and decisive. Commentators ridiculed the marketing attempt as yet another example of how Eastern dishes are being colonised for a western market. One commentator joked about the common mispronunciation of the names of south-east Asian dishes saying, “ASIAN FLAT CROISSANT roti has never been mispronounced like THAT. i’m crying”.
Another shared that the marketing ploy made them think of a previous post in which a piece of pizza was renamed “baked open face western bao” referring to stuffed buns common across Asian cuisines. Another commentator claimed the pizza as an “Italian manakeesh” referencing the Mediterranean dish consisting of bread topped with herbs, cheese or meat.
One commentator even turned the re-brand on its head, tweeting a photograph of vegemite on toast boasting, “And I present to you, the Australian flat bread.” Another added, “this reminds me of the Chinese restaurant in Norway that refers to dumplings as ‘chinese ravioli’”.
One commentator asked, “Are they also calling noodles ‘Asian spaghetti’??!!” And they weren’t the only one using spaghetti as a way to hit back. Whereas someone else tweeted a gif of the classic Italian dish with the caption, “Some Italian style tomato ramen.”
Others pointed out that the advertisement was an example of the erasure of culture in order to appeal to a white market. Someone asked, “how dare they whitewash this”. Another agreed, asking, “What kind of ‘don’t make white people uncomfortable by using “ethnic” words’ hell is this?!”
The user who initially shared the advertisement, followed it up with a tweet including a screenshot from the Nyonya Cooking page explaining the reason for the re-brand. The company said, “We just want to make a fun title for our marketing content to make it more relatable for our audiences who are not familiar with words such as canai, prata, parotta or paratha.”
So whether we call it a roti canai, paratha or God forbid - an Asian flat croissant. It appears that we all agree on the fact that it’s delicious food.
Zoe Victoria is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @Zoe__V