Roti canai is an “Asian Flat Croissant”

If there’s anything Malaysians are fiercely protective about, it’s our local food. Malaysian cuisine has been placed in the global spotlight for a few times now, from Netflix producers making the creative decision to use rambutan in their depiction of an alien fruit to a TikToker’s hilarious attempts to peel one. 

This time around, the attention is on a Singaporean cooking site called Nyonya Cooking for referring to roti canai as an “asian flat croissant” in their Facebook post that was published on 23rd February 2020. It didn’t take long before the post went viral, quickly drawing gazes from Malaysians all over who defo didn’t grow up eating a flat croissant with a side of fish curry. 

“Relatable” marketing content 

The Facebook post has amassed over 100 comments from both amused and enraged Malaysians over the new name given to roti canai. The photo was then reposted by a Twitter user, which helped snowball the matter even more after garnering about 10,000 likes and 4,000 retweets. 

nyonya cooking FB post
Image credit: Nyonya Cooking

Following the barrage of comments, Nyonya Cooking replied to several comments that questioned their intentions behind referring to the roti canai as a flat croissant. According to them, the name was created all in good fun as an attempt to come up with relatable content for non-Asian audiences who may not be familiar with words like canai and paratha

nyonya cooking response
Image adapted from: Nyonya Cooking

Netizens come up with hilarious food jokes

Netizens were quick to gather at the comment section, forming a thread that was mainly made up of jokes and memes. 

The “global” description used for roti canai reminded Jonathan of an old Twitter thread from 2017, which was started by user skim12. It showed a photo of a slice of pizza while the caption read, “Having a baked open face western bao for dinner!”

twitter comment (1)
Image adapted from: @JonathanHsy

The jokes didn’t end there as Affiq, a Malaysian netizen jokingly said that the people from Nyonya Cooking would probably call our local karipap as an Asian beef wellington if they had a chance.

twitter comment (3)
Image adapted from: @affiqkimiler

Another Twitter user said that if roti canai is an Asian flat croissant, then mee goreng may just as well be called an Asian aglio olio. In a later tweet, the user made an appeal to stop whitewashing local food names. 

twitter comment (3)
Image adapted from: @horizonchaes

Roti canai part of Malaysian culture

roti canai
Image credit: @breadetbutter

While this was the only time Nyonya Cooking gave local dishes a creative English twist, it seems that Malaysians would rather have them stick to using their given names.

As seen from the reactions from netizens across Asia, it becomes obvious that there is a need for us to refer to our local food as it is instead of coming up with new ones to accommodate the Western world. Plus, roti canai is a staple food in every Malaysian’s diet, so it’s only right that we stick to its OG name. 

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Cover image adapted from: @breadetbutter


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