If you are an Asian food fan you might have tasted Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Korean, but how about Macanese? The little known cuisine of Macau, or Macao, has flown under the culinary radar but has a striking history and flavour profile that deserves to be championed.
A Portuguese territory until 1999, the food of Macau is a fascinating confluence of Chinese and Portuguese culture and at the heart of the cuisine are the countries bakeries. Now you don’t need a ticket to Asia to get a flavour of one of the best known bakeries in Macau.
Dublin’s Asia Market, has just landed the listing of October Fifth Bakery and will be hosting a tasting on 19th and 20th May in their Drury Street store from 12 noon onwards, as well as offering a special discount to their customers on those days.
We chatted to the woman responsible for bringing this delicacy to Ireland and elsewhere outside Macau, Rachel Lai of Great Harvest, who was happy to share the story of this bakery’s sweet success.
A success that took root over 100 years ago, on On October 5th 1910; one of the most significant days in Macanese history.
On that day the Portuguese revolutionary uprising succeeded in overthrowing the monarchy and establishing a republic. In order to commemorate this day, when the Portuguese colony of Macao to the most prosperous Si Meng Street was named October Fifth Street.
Situated in an area neighbouring the inner harbour, it became the most prosperous street in Macao, and home to the most popular shops, restaurants and bakeries, including October Fifth, becoming synonymous with traditional Macao cuisine.
Rachel explains: “The October Fifth Bakery, which hails from this street, inherits Macao’s traditional craftsmanship, while perfecting its technique with modern production methods. We’re really excited to share this unique Macanese flavour.”
Food in Macau is a confluence of its Portuguese and Chinese heritage, and October Fifth is keenly aware of the thousand of years of ancient customs it has inherited. The bakery has insisted on following traditional biscuit-making process unique to Macau says Rachel.
“We use the traditional wooden barrel carbon baking process, inherited from a Master Baker in Macau, which brings an authentic flavour to the biscuits.”
This unique flavour is not only renowned right across mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau Rachel says.
“October Fifth is now also popular with customers in 30 countries across Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Southeast Asia and elsewhere.”
Truly embedded in the culture of Macau, the cakes and bakes are traditionally given as a gift for family and friends, and are enjoyed as a snack on a day-to-day basis.
One things for sure once you get a taste for the October Fifth you won’t get bored; the bakery has eight main product categories including Almond Cakes, Egg Rolls, Phoenix Rolls, Pastries, and Moon Cake, and within each there are more than 50 varieties.
Favourites worldwide include their Almond Cakes, of course, but also Almond Pastries, Egg Rolls, Abalone Shaped Pastries, Walnut Cakes, and Twister Crisps.
Moon Cakes, one of October Fifth’s specialities, shines particularly brightly during the Mid-Autumn Festival; the second grandest festival in China after the Chinese New Year.
Falling on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, people sacrifice moon cakes to the moon as an offering and eat them for celebration. Their round shape also said to symbolise the reunion of a family.
“The logo of the October Fifth Bakery is actually of a man who has taken a bite out of a piece of cake that resembles the crescent moon,” says Rachel.
“It serves as a reminder of the lunar cycle, while expressing the joy of union and our love of home and family.”
Given the symbolism of Moon Cake, October Fifth Bakery will play a central role in the Mid-Autumn Festival day celebrations at Asia Market who will be hosting a Moon Cake tasting and riddle guessing activities.