Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Confection of Chinese Pastries





    Introduction:

    Chinese pastries are all types of bakery products that are produced through  traditional Chinese cooking methods, which are distinct from their western counterparts. With the passage of time, it became clear that local tastes also evolved. However, the characteristics of Chinese pastries and their popular roots have remained unchanged, with the continued use of simple and homemade ingredients, such as eggs, flour, lard, fermented red bean curds and lotus seed paste. Chinese bakery products can basically be sub-divided into pastries, cookies and cakes, with a good portion of dishes consisting of flour dough that receives a filling and is then baked afterwards Common types of Chinese bakery products in Macao include almond biscuits (xingren bing), Chinese shortbread (guang su bing), chicken pastries (ji zei bing), walnut cookies (he tao su), the so-called wife’s cakes or sweetheart cakes (lao po bing), pork favored biscuits (rou qie su), abalone-shaped pastries (baoyu su), the so-called phoenix rolls (fenghuang juan), chess cakes (qizi bing), banana soft cakes (xiangjiao gao) and peanut candies (huasheng tang). In the old days when western pastries were not yet popular, Chinese pastries used to be displayed in most Chinese teahouses and restaurants to attract clients. This type of pastries was also used as popular gifts for engagements, weddings, as well as offerings for sacrificial ceremonies, therefore being an important part of the local customs and the local gastronomic and ceremonial traditions of Macao.

     

    Conservation Status:

    Many of the existing pastry shops in Macao are the descendents of old tea houses and traditional Chinese coffee shops cha chaan tengs. The local Chinese pastry industry peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, and the traditional methods of baking gave way to more mechanized production processes. Nonetheless, some traditional pastry shops in Macao still use traditional methods and the use of charcoal ovens, also maintaining the handcraft techniques for making pastries and respective fillings. Modernization has however brought greater competition among enterprises also presenting greater challenges for the continuity of traditional Chinese bakeries and the transmission of traditional skills.

     

    Heritage Value:

    Traditional Chinese pastry confection is a millenary tradition that is very representative of particular regional characteristics. The local Chinese pastry baking techniques are an important element that reflects the development of Chinese gastronomic culture in Macao. The features of these techniques, the various types of Chinese pastries and the development of this industry are also of significant value for the study of local food culture, as well as constituting relevant elements for the study about Macao’s industrial evolution and the customs of the local community.


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