On July 23, 2002 a small part of the History of Macau was filmed through Discovery Channel's Malaysia based crew for a set of 15 programs to be called Noodle Box, aiming at a young audience, and featuring Adventure, History and Culture.
The filming begun at early morning and the day would prove to be a sample of all the weather variations in Macau at this time of the year. We had bright sunshine, hazy day, dark clouds, strong rain for a short while. At the end of the day I was more then exhausted.
 

BITS OF  HISTORY  

It is unbelievable that sometimes reality transcends fiction. In the 16th. Century the Portuguese committed the feat of joining by sea the Westernmost country in Europe to fabled Cathay.
During their voyages they established themselves first in Goa, India, where for some time they fought before going to Malaysia where they settled at Malacca where the great captain Afonso de Albuquerque built A Famosa as it is still known by the locals. But the expeditions did not cease, and from Malacca the Portuguese traveled to the South China Coast and the earliest accounts speak about Jorge Álvares stopping in 1517 at Tuen Mun, where ships from Borneo, Manila and Malacca used to stop.
Tomé Pires was sent as an Ambassador to the Ming court in Beijing but would not be fortunate to meet the Emperor, as the Son of Heaven passed away.
1557 is the generally accepted date for the foundation of Macau in the small peninsula. At that time the Portuguese had already secured the monopoly of silk trading with Japan, since China and Japan did not have any diplomatic relations at the time.

THE DUTCH ATTACK  1622

 



This
is a 16th. Century Macau map, showing the hills and fortifications of the city.

The Monte Fortress was built on top of a small hill or Monte in Portuguese, one of the seven hills in Macau, as part of a defensive system. However it was also part of the Jesuit's complex encompassing a Church and the first University of the Far East in Western lines.
Due to the lack of stone, the fortress was built with chunambo or taipa, a tight mixture of sand, crushed sea shells, clay, as main materials. It proved to be so strong that 400 years later is still standing very strong and when some of the ancient city's defensive walls had to be taken down, about 45 kilograms of explosives were needed per meter of wall.

With the Portuguese being the first traders with Japan, selling Chinese silk and coming back with silver bullion, it soon attracted the Dutch East India Company, known as V.O.C. and created in 1603.  Since 1604 the Dutch tried to take Macau from the Portuguese settlers. The first unsuccessful attempt dated exactly from 1604.
In 1607 a second attempt took place, composed of 8 ships and 550 men. Six local hybrid barges known as lorcha were dispatched and the locals were able to sink one of the Dutch warships and disband the remaining.
However the profits of the silk trade were so huge that the Dutch did not give up.
In 1622 a fleet of 14 warships and 800 soldiers arrived at the bay of Macau.
At Monte Fortress with crew
The history of the fortress
The  small city was taken by surprise, but the 150 soldiers garrison and the men available gave fight to the invaders. At Guia Fortress, then still a very small place, some soldiers made the Dutch hesitate in their advance with their musket fire. But the city was being bombarded and the 800 Dutch soldiers advanced against fierce resistance and tried to break the city in two.
From the fortress which was overlooking the bay, a Jesuit priest who was visiting, fired back against the 14 ships while the battle was going on under desperate circumstances.
One of the canon shots hit the gunpowder ship and a tremendous explosion followed leading to more ships to be sunk.
The fortress canons

The Portuguese soldiers, commanded by the Black Ship Captain-General Lopo Sarmento de Carvalho, having received news of the Dutch disaster at the bay, gained second breath and won the battle over the much larger force taking prisoner the Dutch commander, Captain Kornelis Reyerszoon, as well as many other soldiers.
It was St. John's Baptist day, June 24, 1622. Later it would become the City's day in commemoration of the fierce and uneven battle.
The Dutch never dared to return again. Instead they conjured with the Japanese Shogunate against the Portuguese, who were also those that introduced the firearm in Japan, at Tanegashima where the Teppo Matsuri is still commemorated.

THE SYMBOL OF MACAU  
The Church of the Mother of God of St. Paul was constructed in 1602 with a stone façade with very symbolical meanings to it. It was formally inaugurated in the Christmas of 1603.
At the time, the counter-reform pushed the Jesuits as the most well learned priests of the Catholic Church to teach Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics along with their missionary activity.
The Church was therefore built according to a strategy of using Macau as a training point for missionaries to China and Japan. A Western University was established by the Jesuits as part of the complex comprehending the Church, the College of St. Paul and the Monte Fort.
At the now gone University, Japanese converses and ordained priests taught Nihon-go (Japanese language).
In the first half of the 19th. Century the remaining part of the church that was made in wood suffered a fire and only the Façade remained.
St. Paul's façade Therefore we do reach the conclusion that Macau was and still is a special place.
WEST IN EAST  
The fundamental essence of Macau is the fact that it was the farthest place between Asia and Europe that produced a very early form of globalization and of miscegenation.
The Senate Square is typically a Portuguese city square. What is incredible is that it still exists in all its splendor in the year 2002. The Chinese authorities understood the principle of coexistence, and the fountain we can see in the picture bears the Armillary Sphere, the basis of the Portuguese Coat of Arms.
To add to this, it must be said that Macau had the earliest form of Democratic government in South East Asia. A city-state ruled by a Senate elected by the entire population, shaped in the Greek formula of cities.
The Senate Square
To the right of the Senate Square picture is the white building of the Holy House of Mercy, a Portuguese institution that also exists in Macau to help the poor.
The entire square is of Portuguese Matrix, and this his happening in Southern Coast of China.

A Mediterranean flavor blends with Chinese characters and Chinese restaurants while the square provides access to nearby typical Chinese streets as well as to a web of lanes and the city's main street.

 
The Tourism Department The Post Office
TYPICAL CHINESE STREET
MACAU have always depended entirely on China for food supply, yet no Chinese was allowed by the Qing Dynasty Mandarins to stay in Macau overnight until late in the 19th. century. Only the three small villages that existed remained untouched by the Imperial authorities.
When the Chinese were finally allowed to establish themselves in Macau, there was already a Chinese City around the so called Christian City as all sorts of trading and food sales took place in Macau.
The Chinese street that you are having a glimpse is called Happiness Street.
Happiness Street In Chinese culture, red is the color for Happiness and so the street was restored to its former glory.
There were plenty of Chinese restaurants in the old days where one would play mahjong, meet friends, perhaps take an opium pipe, have dinner and listen to the songs and music of the Pi Pa chai a kind of Chinese Geisha from the flower world which started their training as how to please a guest at an early age, learning how to converse, to serve food and to play the Pi Pa .
It was actually entertainment street and the houses were not only frequented by the Chinese but also by the Portuguese and Macanese.

FABULOUS FOOD

SPICE ROUTE AND EARLY FUSION CUISINE
During their travels, the Portuguese gained the control over spices in India. Pepper was a luxury in Europe, and it was sent back to Portugal to be sold throughout Europe as well as cinnamon an other exotic ingredients that were brought before by the Silk Road.
During their stay in Portuguese India they had mixed with Indian women, then in Malacca in happened again with Malay women, and all the way the Portuguese created genetic pools. It is said by poets that the Portuguese fought their way into the Far-East and Brazil, brandishing the sword in one hand and love in the other.
Hence different spices and early recipes were brought to Macau and again flourished with the learning of the Chinese cuisine.
Mrs. Manuela Ferreira is a childhood friend and we went to her Macanese food restaurant O LITORAL for a sample of Macanese food. Manuela is the soul of the restaurant, guardian of her family's generations old recipes, and after filming we had a banquet.
Curry crabmeat with quill's eggs, chicken with five herbs flavor, stuffed crabs, pork with balichão ( shrimp paste) and wonderful tamarind, and minced meat that we call minchee actually being a corruption of the original English word minced.
The TV crew was in awe with the food and I sensed that they were being totally honest.

Manuela has already hosted Yan from Yan Can Cook as well as CNN and it is indeed a pleasure to find that Macanese cuisine is a sublime mixture of spices and flavors. Her recipes are her unquestionable heritage.
Just think about this: Pasta exists because Marco Polo brought it from the East to the West. MACANESE FOOD is exactly the opposite. It is West traveling to the East and incorporating more and more experiences.
Stuffed Crabs for example, incorporates not only crabmeat but also pork, a concept borrowed from Chinese Yin-Yang. The crab is destroyed and then rebuild and finished with breadcrumbs and two olives to emulate the eyes.
With Mrs. Manuela
Macanese Dishes
Stuffed Crabs

PLENTY

THE MACANESE WAY
There are certain type of open smiles that don't lie, and Tony's (far left) and Eric's, sound and cameraman, as well as Chris, who is just seated next to Mrs. Manuela do show the anticipated pleasure for the coming food after having filmed it.

PLENTY is not the movie, but the way how the Macanese like to host their guests, and what better host than Manuela herself?
João, the very kind gentleman at the top of the table was the tireless Tourism gentleman that took care of everything very efficiently.
Mr. Armindo Ferreira, on the left, husband of Manuela is the lucky man who gets to taste all of the more than 50 recipes that are available à la carte.
Were you expecting pictures of us eating? Who would leave the seat?
In short, Manuela, Armindo, João and myself, we are Macanese, meaning that we are Portuguese born in Macau. Each of our personal gene pool is different, yet we share the same love for this place that I dare say it is unique.

WEST
in EAST and a permanent adventure of living in MACAU.