Friday, 25 December 2009

Saudade, Saude, Boas festas de Natal

Last night a dear and cherished friend had a real Macau celebration! His Consoada (Christmas Eve repast) was Sopa de Lacassa. It is "a must for the occasion". "Main ingredients: Mai Fun (translucent noodles), small shrimps, char siu, eggs, green onions, fish stock (chicken stock, even canned ones permissible). That's all. The other repast at Yuletide-time is the New Year Morn (past midnight and onwards) repast of Canja de Frango (that is, Chicken jook or congee)" "Saudade (fond memory), Saude (health), Boas festas de Natal (Good feasts at Christmas)"

This greeting is very precious to me. There are few true Macanese around, so they're treasures. "Sopa de Lacassa" means I think "soup of the Lascars" the ancient name for "moors" which means generic Malay, hence the resemblance to "laksa", Malay noodle soup. Like the Nonyas of Malacca (Chinese/Malay hybrids) the Macanese had their own distinct culture and language, even literature and songs. A lot of poetry, still written today even though only a few hundred people speak the dialect now and they're all over 80. Perhaps the reason for the poetry is that the dialect is naturally melodic with lots of repeat words (like in Malay) and a syntax that follows sound tones (like Chinese) One day perhaps someone will set this poetry to music: it would be unique and very beautiful.

Another Macau Xmas food is Aluar, which is a lot of trouble to make, so is usually bought from ladies who make it in batches, often the same families that make balichão. Aluar is a kind of pudding made from pig lard and Chinese brown slab sugar. You eat it in tiny thin slices, it's very greasy and filling. It's not unlike the Chinese pudding you get at Lunar New Year, which is slightly lighter and is eaten steamed.

Here's a useful link to Macanese culture.


Juliet said...

The term 'Lascars' is also used to refer to seafarers (especially merchant navy) of oriental origin.

I don't know if the soup is particuarly assocaited with them ?

Doundou Tchil said...

Could be ! The Macanese, like Malays, Chinese etc were sea faring merchants so it's quite likely. Nice simple food for cooking on board ship.