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Macao on a Plate

by: Annabel DoLing

Hong Kong : Roundhouse Publications 1995, $29.95, Paperback
ISBN: 962-7992-01-1

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M Newman
Spring Volume: 1996 Issue: 3(1)

Subtitled A Culinary Journey, the book allows you to meet and taste Macau's varied table without reading a recipe. Doling delves into culinary heritage, delicacies, spices, mores, and more. Established by the Portuguese in 1557, Macao once rivalled Venice, she says, as the most entrepot in the world.

The book starts with a foreword by Ken Hom who referred to this place as the "weaving of all (culinary) elements to create sumptuous descriptions of Macau and its food" and the book as "your indispensable guide into this uniquely delicious world."

Seven chapters are in this small volume that starts with one about politics and power called The Bargaining Table and ends with the Tables of Macau, Taipa and Coloane (an outer island), and their Gourmet Circles. It weaves Portugal's colonial heritage there through its home comforts, wine, and the soul of its cuisine. There is information about chefs, families, tea houses, patisseries, local manners, restaurant listings, maps, and a very fine index.

As you read, you can almost smell the cinnamon, cloves, chili, and saffron; almost taste the African Chicken, the Vietnamese-style crab dishes, the stews, and the bacalhau. You can savor the melding of Chinese, Indian, African, and Portuguese, see and read about typical crossing in culinary terms and tastes, and enjoy the sweets many folk miss when they think of Chginese food.

To read about salads such as Salada de Orelha de Porco (pig's ear salad), Sarapatel (pork tripe made the Goan way), and Chef Leong's Sauted Shrimps and Scallops with Honey Beans and Fungus is to taste the mix and meld of the land. Balichao or shrimp paste is the only flavoring in Dorling's discussion of Lacassa noodles, and other than a few sprigs of coriander, you will think you are in Portugal. Read about and sip the Vinho Tinto, intensely fruity and not the top of the wines in the world, but the place it is served and the frequency of use tell that a wine culture does exist for those dishes with Portuguese flavor, water and beer with Macanese taste, and tea for things Chinese.

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