Very often we hear of friends and read of comments by many bemoaning that certain foods or things which they had tasted in the past were so different from how the same things tasted nowadays. These people swear that their food of old especially those prepared by their mothers/grandmothers, tasted much better and the people in restaurants and hawker centre who prepared the same food nowadays are just not able to reproduce the same tastes.
There could be a few explanations for this.
For one thing, the food prepared by our mothers/grandmothers were prepared with a heavy dose of love. The same cannot be said of restaurant or hawker centre food. Another reason could be that for most of us in the earlier years we had less food to eat. Thus, scarcity instilled in us how precious and memorable it was to eat certain foods which probably were available on special occasions only. The occasion or festive mood when such foods were eaten could also have added that irreplaceable feature/element into the authentic taste. It could also be certain ingredient which were originally used are no longer available or allowed. For example an ingredient called “Pang Sah “ in Cantonese or borax , which was commonly used in the past to clean chicken intestines and marinade “crunchy crystal prawns” to give a crunchy “mouth-feel 口感“ is now not allowed to be used. Without “Pang Sar” or borax, chicken intestines and crunchy crystal prawn now taste different from the past.
Another factor could be the “wok hey”. In the past most cooks used either fire-wood or charcoal. These can give a very strong and intensive fire. Nowadays, most households use either electric or gas stoves which is not so hot in comparison.
However, “authentic taste” followed too closely may not be so acceptable to local tastes . I remember some years ago, a group of wives of Singapore businessmen decided to set up a restaurant to sell “authentic Thai food from a certain region of Thailand. Part of the authentic offering comprised raw garlic and long beans. These were to be the appetizers .Customers were turned off by these raw vegetables and the business closed after only a few months due to lack of business.