Malacca Food Tour Introduction

My hometown Malacca was once a prosperous entreport for spice route from 1500s-1600s. Thanks to its colonial past, with Portuguese colonizing Malacca in the 1500s, Dutch in the 1600s and British in the 1800s, Malacca is a melting pot of local culture and those of its colonial masters. Just like its colorful history, Malacca cuisine is complex, with influences from the Chinese, Malay, Portuguese, Indian, Dutch and Siamese. Peranakan and Portuguese-Eurasian food for example, are the product of cross cultural marriage between local Malays and Chinese immigrants during 15th and 16th century, and between the Malays/Chinese/Indian and Portuguese during 16th and 17th century.

But the Malacca cuisine Gan and I grew up eating are mainly Chinese food of different dialects, brought over by our Chinese ancestors from different parts of Southern China during 19th - early 20th Century. Some of our Chinese ancestors moved to Malaysia (then Malaya) to seek better life. Those who came to Malacca during that time were mostly of Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka and Hainan dialect descent, which is why Bak Kut Teh (Hokkien cuisine), Teochew porridge and oyster omelette (Teowchew cuisine), yong tau foo (Hakka cuisine) and Hainanese chicken rice (Hainanese cuisine) are so popular here in Malacca. Just like the Chinese cuisines found in other parts of Malaysia, Malacca Chinese cuisines have their own local flavors and varieties.

During our food tour to Malacca, Gan and I tried to emphasize our itinerary on the diversity and uniqueness of Malaccan food such as Bibik Neo Peranakan food, Oysters Omelette (not entirely similar to the more famous Taiwanese Oh-Ah-Chien), Nyonya/Durian chendol, Taiwanese pork chop/beef noodles, Hainanese chicken rice balls, satay babi and Nyonya zhang (dumplings). You can trace most of the origins or influence of these food to the cultural influences of the immigrants or various past rich history of Malacca. Malacca was awarded the World Heritage status just recently so it is aptly appropriate that we're now documenting the richness of the history of Malacca food. Most of these places are already pretty famous since they were already featured in local TV food programs and are more popular among the tourists. There are still some hidden gems in Malacca though, which are not yet discovered by "food scouts", like the chendol place in Klebang that my parents brought us there.

Even though Gan and I have left Malaysia for a long time, we still think highly of the food we grew up eating in Malacca. It's the local proprietors' dedication in preserving traditions and maintaining food quality that keeps it good and affordable for the people to enjoy. Of course Malacca is still not as popular as Penang (Georgetown, the other World Heritage site recently awarded together with Malacca) as a food destination, but it does have alot of good/unique food to offer.


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