Eurasian heritage back in the spotlight after two years


FOOD and music brought people together at the Penang Eurasian Heritage Fiesta 2022.

Age-old favorites like Devil’s Curry, Saltfish Pickle, Lamb Pie and Sugar Cake were a treat as family and friends reveled in each other’s company.

Live bands sang one happy melody after another and entertained the crowd throughout the event, which was held at St Xavier’s, Lebuh Farquhar in George Town.

Many visitors also took the opportunity to buy cakes, cookies and other homemade delicacies prepared by members of the community.

President of the Eurasian Association of Penang, Datuk Aloysius Gasper, said it was the eighth edition of the festival, but the first since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, it was held every year from 2013 to 2019.

“It is primarily to celebrate the arrival of the Eurasian community in Penang on August 15, 1786, just days after Captain Francis Light officially took possession of the island.

“We were the first Catholic community here.

“In addition to that, August 15 is also the Feast of the Assumption and that is how the Church of the Assumption got its name,” Gasper explained.

He added that it is also their responsibility to preserve and transmit Eurasian culture to future generations.

“If we don’t take pride and own our heritage, then who will? With the return to normal, we hope that more and more people will join in the celebrations every year.

“Penang is such a beautiful place because of the diversity of its people. And we should be celebrating a community that has been a key part of its history,” Gasper noted.

He and organizing chairperson Penny Theseira then took the chairman of the local state government, housing, city and land-use planning committee Jagdeep Singh Deo, the assemblyman of Pulau Tikus Chris Lee Chun Kit and Managing Director of George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI), Dr. Ang Ming Chee, during a tour of the stalls.

They also tried the devil’s curry, whose curious nickname is said to derive from the word debal which means rest in the Creole language of Kristang spoken by people of mixed Portuguese and Malay ancestry in Melaka.

It was originally served at the end of the year and made from Christmas dinner leftovers, but is now a regular item in Eurasian homes and made from fresh ingredients.

“The spiciness of the dish makes it quite devilish too. It is a staple of any Eurasian reception.

“Every household has its own recipe, and everyone’s mother’s recipe is usually the best!” Gasper added.

The party, which ended around midnight, also featured a sugee cake contest, beer drinking contest and raffles. — By JEREMY TAN

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