Singapore’s tradition of communal dining at hawker centers, open air food courts popularized by celebrity chefs and films like ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, has been recognized by UNESCO for its cultural significance.
The UN’s cultural agency said it added the city-state’s “hawker culture” to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, two years after Singapore submitted a bid to be included in the list.
The hawker centers were set up to house street vendors or “hawkers” in an effort to clean up the island in the 1970s and serve a variety of cheap, no-frills dishes to locals as well as providing a social setting.
UNESCO said, “These centers serve as ‘community dining rooms’ where people from diverse backgrounds gather and share the experience of dining over breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay have effused over favorite hawker center dishes such as chicken rice.