Experience Portuguese Culture in Bangkok

【Global Times Special Correspondent Ye Xiaozhong】Walking has always been a comfortable way to travel. Even in the hot tropics, I am still willing to trust my feet. Walking, the scenery will come to you, and even freeze and stay for you. I never thought Bangkok was a good place to walk until I came across 22 Bangkok Walking Routes. In recent years, the Thai government has been gearing up to plan the coastal trails, clean up the old buildings on the shore, and reproduce the scenery of the Chao Phraya River.

Following the words in the book, I walked into the Kudi Chin neighborhood on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. Tourists generally move on the east side, and it is not until the giant shopping mall Iconsiam rises on the west side that people start to set foot on the “other side of the river”. There is a Portuguese village in the Kudi Chin block, where the descendants of the Portuguese live, most of them are Catholics, and there will be a guarding angel statue on the gate. There are only pedestrian streets in the block, about two meters wide, and cars cannot enter. The walking path twists and turns like a labyrinth, occasionally reaching a dead end and having to turn back to find the exit.

In the era of great voyages, the Portuguese took the lead in coming to Asia with their advanced nautical technology. After occupying Goa in India, they continued south and captured Malacca in 1511. In order to control the spice trade, it traveled all over Southeast Asia. The relationship between Portugal and Thailand dates back to the 16th century. Portugal was the first European country to come into contact with the Ayutthaya dynasty in Thailand, not only establishing a stronghold in Ayutthaya, the capital of Thailand at the time, but also becoming a dominant foreign merchant. The Portuguese at the time signed a contract with the King of Thailand to provide arms and firearms in exchange for the right to settle and do business in Ayutthaya. The Portuguese Embassy in Thailand was established in Bangkok in 1820.

In 1567, the first group of Portuguese monks came to Thailand and built the first Catholic church in Ayutthaya. After the destruction of Ayutthaya, the rulers at that time decided to be closer to Bangkok on the Gulf of Siam. . The Portuguese continued to provide arms to the Thai king to drive out the Burmese army who often came to trouble, and the Thai king gave Kudi Chin to the Portuguese. Kudi Chin’s landmark Santa Cruz Church was built in 1770, painted pink, with Intense southern European colors.

There are currently about 300 families living in this neighborhood around the Catholic Church, most of them are Catholics, and many are descendants of intermarriage between Portuguese and local people, with quite unique historical and cultural customs. , Some homes will be filled with Catholic icons and angels at the door. In order to preserve their culture, the locals also renovated a wooden house to display the daily necessities and furniture used by the locals in the past, as well as the historical relationship between Thailand and Portugal.

Portuguese merchants introduced weapons and goods from all over the world, and also influenced Thai culture and food. Portuguese cuisine entered the Thai court and spread to the homes of ordinary people. Occasionally, a dessert called Foi Thong (Foi Thong), which originated in Portugal, is now occasionally served in Bangkok restaurants and is called Fios de ovos (shredded egg). Bundles of shredded eggs with the same line, soaked in syrup, are mouth-watering in shape and color. Because its strips symbolize longevity, and the golden color symbolizes good luck, gold threads are often seen in Thai wedding banquets and festivals. Pung in Thai means bread, derived from the Portuguese word Pun. Everyday language is more stubborn than food, insisting on retaining the distant nostalgia.

Kudi Chin has many cake shops that have been passed down for several generations, selling a kind of cake called khanom farang of dim sum. Many have been passed down for 5 generations, and the cakes were baked according to the traditional Portuguese recipes. However, because yeast and butter could not be found in Thailand at that time, they improved the traditional sponge cakes, and the ingredients were only flour, duck eggs and sugar.

The baker will first put the cake batter into a copper mold, put it in the oven, and then cover it with an iron plate full of charcoal. It is estimated that in order to avoid burning, the master has to lift the iron plate every one or two minutes. The shape of the foreigner cake is similar to a cup cake. The taste and texture are very similar to the chicken cakes we often eat. It is also sprinkled with sugar and placed with raisins and dried persimmons. This “addition” is said to be inspired by the Chinese, “Sugar means making a fortune, I hope you can be like the sugar above, so rich that people can’t tell how much money you have!” “Raisins symbolize health, and dried persimmons are for bringing Good luck.”

Although the baked cake is a bit dry and fluffy, the locals have long been accustomed to this traditional taste. Now Bangkok can find more suitable ingredients for making cakes, but the locals are still reluctant to change. The boss once said in an interview: “We have to keep this 500-year-old tradition, because this is the starting point of making cakes in Thailand. .”