Paradoxically, Indian food is the national dish of the United Kingdom. For many British people a curry is a frequent treat, so my surprise was palpable when I found several Indian restaurants in Funchal serving British-Indian fusion classics such as Tikka Masala. Perhaps this is a consequence of the myriad British tourists who holiday in Madeira every year. But there is usually a deeper justification.
My initial assumption was that one of the many British expatriates of Madeira’s history had popularised the cuisine here. This notion was substantiated by the presence of an Indian Infantry Division at the Jesuits’ College in 1941. The company was raised in Secunderabad, and eventually fought against the Japanese in Burma during the Second World War. What their business was in Madeira is unclear, but it is plausible that they introduced Indian cuisine to Madeira.
An alternative explanation points to the connection between Portugal and South Africa. The shared history of these two nations dates back to Vasco da Gama’s journey around the Cape of Good Hope in 1497 (coincidentally en route to India), and today around 100,000 people of Portuguese heritage live in South Africa, many of Madeiran descent. However around 2,500,000 Indians live in South Africa, primarily in Durban, which has been dubbed the largest Indian city outside of India. The South African flags that adorn several of Funchal’s Indian restaurants would support the idea that the movement of people between Madeira and South Africa is in fact responsible for the introduction of Britain’s favourite meal to Funchal.
Funchal’s history is defined by multiculturalism, and I struggle to think of anything more multicultural than eating Britain’s national dish in a South African restaurant in the capital city of a Portuguese autonomous region.
Josef Butler is a volunteer from London. History and Politics graduate from the University of Leicester. Currently living in Funchal and collaborating with AAUMa as part of the History Tellers programme.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.