The most notable influence is undoubtedly the architecture. While ruins such as St. Paul’s Cathedral dramatically point to the presence that once was, modern city centers such as Senado Square still shimmer in pastel-colored building facades and streets paved in the traditional Portuguese style. Similarly, many street signs in Macau still retain their original Portuguese names, a curious navigational anomaly considering the overwhelming percentage of Cantonese-speaking Chinese who scurry about the streets today.
Then, of course, there’s the food. Classic Portuguese cuisine can be found at restaurants and cafes in all corners of the peninsula, much of which fuses traditional Portuguese recipes with local seafood and dishes with roots in colonial Mozambique. With 450 years to tinker with the fusion of recipes, many of the dishes are now described as classically “Macanese,” a type of cuisine in which recipes were pulled from all corners of the colonial empire to create a genre of food unlike any other in the world. A favorite among travelers are the pastel de nata: egg tarts which comprise a Macanese dish nearly synonymous with a visit to Coloane Island.
Though the Portuguese ceased to be a political factor after the 1999 handover, the customs, cuisine and culture they brought ashore will forever engrain themselves in the lives of the people who inhabit this quirky little corner of southern China.
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