Thanks to the Guild Fellowship Fund: Annabel Jackson

Annabel Jackson writes: ’Open a copy of my new book – The Making of Macau’s Fusion Cuisine – and in the front endpapers appears the GFW logo! In 2018 I was delighted to receive a bursary from the GFW Fellowship Fund to assist with my research: a trip to Malacca. My core subject is Macanese cuisine, the Portuguese-influenced indigenous cooking of Macau, but I had been reading about the resurgence of Kristang cooking in Malacca. The Kristang are the all-but forgotten descendants of the Portuguese, but thanks in no small part to tourism initiatives, the culture of the community in Malacca has seen something of a resurgence. The Kristang restaurants one finds in Portuguese Square raise the usual questions of “staged authenticity” and so on, but I was delighted to meet Chef Melba Nunis (she’s the little girl in the picture!) who was at that time working at The Majestic, Malacca hotel, running market tours and cooking classes, in addition to normal restaurant duties. What was most striking to me was how similar at root are so many Macanese and Kristang dishes. Both have a dish named after the devil – Diabo (Macanese) and Kari Debal (Kristang). Both stuff cabbage leaves with ground pork. Both cook a flaked crab dish in its own shell. Both have a dish based on pork, onion, tamarind and fermented shrimp paste, the difference being that the Kristang version includes a rempah (spice mix). I have also spotted a very similar dish in a Goan cookbook. But that’s yet another story.’