Saturday, May 30, 2009

Colonial Melacca

On our last day in Melacca we decided to see the historical sites of the town. First up was St. Paul’s Hill and St. Paul’s Church.Originally built as a Portuguese Catholic Church, a century later the Dutch turned the area into a burial ground for Dutch nobility.Perched on top of a hill providing a much needed breeze from the ocean and views of Melacca below.The church is extremely well preserved with only the walls and entrance remaining. It was a beautiful and serene historic site to visit.Even more impressive was the ruins of the Portuguese fortress A’Famosa. Severely destroyed by the Dutch, the remaining building is incredibly well preserved example of the once dominant Portuguese architecture in the area.All the hill climbing in high humidity made us hungry, so we headed towards a hawker’s center on the other side of the hill.Hawkers’ centers are like open-air food courts and are more organized and governed in Malaysia and Singapore than in Thailand or Vietnam. Our goal was to try some Portuguese/Malay cuisine, in particular a dish called Debal Curry or Devil’s Curry. We unfortunately arrived late in the day and many food stalls were closed.We were even more disappointed when we found a food stall which offered the uniquely local dish.We did find a vendor selling beverages and we ordered something refreshing before perusing the rest of the food stalls.We found a vendor who sold curry laksa, a spicy/sweet coconut curry soup with rice noodles, tofu, shrimp, and fish patties.We aren’t as fond of sweet coconut milk based soups as much as the clear broth based soups, but the coconut milk in this dish enhanced and made the curry more aromatic adding a complexity we hadn’t found in other coconut milk based dishes, a testiment to the unique history of Malacca.

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