Getting babi pangang on the cultural heritage list



Dutch-Chinese filmmaker Julie Ng is currently working on a film about the Dutch-Chinese community entitled ‘Wij zijn meer dan babi pangang’ (‘We’re more than babi pangang’). Since the number of Chinese-Indonesian restaurants where the dish is served are disappearing, some 1097 left as documented recently by Marc van Wonderen in his picture book, Ng believes it’s time to protect babi pangang as part of her identity and the collective Dutch one as well by getting it on the cultural heritage list.

Babi pangang is the name of a quintessential Chinese-Indonesian restaurant dish with Dutch, Chinese-Indonesian and Malay roots, consisting of pork in a tomato-based sweet-and-sour sauce, also served in Flanders and made popular in the late 1960-1970s.

Babi pangang is a made-up dish much in the same way that Madras sauce is a British invention and chop suey is an American-Chinese one. However, in the Netherlands when it comes to food, eating Chinese usually implies Chinese-Indonesian since it is the only Chinese food many people here actually know unless they live in big cities or have travelled far enough to know the difference.


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