A Eurasian Christmas Feast
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.