Of the four racial groups, Eurasians in Singapore are the smallest in numbers. No wonder why its culture and cuisine are the least known. Here are 3 things you might not know of them:
1. Descendants of the West
Eurasians are individuals of mixed Asian and European descent. Historically, most of South East Asia were part of different European colonies; Dutch, Portugese, French and British. Many of these married the local women of these lands. Their offspring were then known as Eurasians.
The number of different descent and origins, has also led to a myriad of culture and traditions, and most of these are a fusion mix of East and West.
An example of this mix of east and West is the commemoration of Good Friday which is one of the important days of the Christian calendar.
Along Victoria Street is the Church of Saint Joseph which has a cultural importance to the Eurasians in Singapore. On Good friday, a statue of Jesus Christ carrying his cross is processed round the premises of the church. At the end of the service, packets of aromatic mixed flower petals are given out for the church-goers to bring home. This is apparently a Portuguese tradition. But in Singapore, locally available flower petals have been adapted into the practice, which is known as Bunga Rampai which is actually a Malay phrase, meaning Mixed Flowers.
2. Mixed pot of East and West
Of course, this also means that Eurasian cuisine is a mixed pot of culture, with European and Asian influence and tastes. Often, these are dishes with European roots but cooked locally with Asian spices and ingredients.
One of the more famous Eurasian dishes is Curry Debal. Often mispronounced as Curry Devil, the curry is actually a mixed curry of leftover meats from the night before.
Shepherd’s Pie which has very British roots has been given an Eurasian twist by adding ingredients like Chinese Mushroom and Oyster Sauce which is common in Chinese cooking.
Eurasian snacks also have a typical Asian influence. Fish and Prawn crackers (Keropok) which usually comes from Malaysia and Indonesia.
3. Small in number, big in contribution
Though they may be small in number in terms of racial proportion, the contributions of the Eurasians are not small. The Eurasian community has produced numerous important persons in Singapore’s history.
- Singapore’s second President Benjamin Sheares
- Jazz Musician Jeremy Monteiro
- Radio DJs – Brian Richmond, Vernetta Lopez, Rod Monteiro, Mark van Cuylenberg, etc.
- National Swimmer Joseph Schooling
Without the historic colonisation of South-East Asia, perhaps there might not have been the birth of Eurasians and its rich heritage, culture and food.
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