A Eurasian Christ­mas Feast

SALT Magazine - - A Day With - TEXT ALISA CHOPARD PHO­TOS LIM MINGLONG & DANIEL CHIA ART DI­REC­TION SHARON GAN & BEN­JAMIN SOH

East meets West in a ta­ble-bend­ing spread this fes­tive sea­son. We got three Eurasians in

the restau­rant busi­ness to share their tale.

Christ­mas in my home is a sight to be­hold. Car­ols swell from speak­ers, a tree twin­kles in the cor­ner, and the house is dec­o­rated with bunches of mistle­toe and holly. The food, too, is in ex­cess, and truly won­der­ful. My par­ents spend at least four days pre­par­ing a spread that can feed an army of our thirty fam­ily mem­bers and friends. At the ta­ble, you’ll find my Eurasian fa­ther’s yearly sta­ples: a rich ox­tail stew (served with but­tery spaghetti), juicy roast beef, and tasty roast ham spiced with cloves. My mother adds to the med­ley of food with her thick and fra­grant Peranakan-style chicken curry. And for the rest of the night, my home is filled with the warmth of good com­pany and rau­cous laugh­ter.

Christ­mas isn’t just the sea­son for my fam­ily. It is cel­e­brated in a big way by Eurasians all around Sin­ga­pore. The ori­gin of Eurasians can be traced as far back as the 16th cen­tury, when Euro­pean set­tlers started trav­el­ling to Asia. The Por­tuguese were amongst the first to ar­rive, and their pres­ence in In­dia and Malacca re­sulted in unions with lo­cal women. Later on, Eurasians also emerged from Dutch and Bri­tish set­tle­ments around the re­gion. As most Eurasians are Christian, they ob­serve spe­cial oc­ca­sions like Easter, Lent, and espe­cially Christ­mas.

For many Eurasians here, their her­itage is more than just the mar­riage of two eth­nic­i­ties: Euro­pean and Asian. The Eurasian cul­ture is unique in its fu­sion; rich and colour­ful. The cui­sine, too, is vi­brant on the palate. For ex­am­ple, the pop­u­lar Eurasian dish de­bal’s curry is a hearty mixed-meat stew cooked with Asian spices. In fact, Eurasian food is in­flu­enced by many cuisines around the world, in­clud­ing Por­tuguese, Bri­tish, Dutch, French, Malay, Chi­nese, Peranakan and In­dian. But no mat­ter how far and wide­lyflung the in­flu­ences, the Eurasian com­mu­nity in Sin­ga­pore is small and closely-knit. And there is no big­ger, or bet­ter, tra­di­tion amongst Eurasians than Christ­mas, to get to­gether and show how deep and far-reach­ing the roots of their cul­ture re­ally go.

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