Taiwan’s Government Information Office has launched a new website to help promote Taiwanese Cuisine. Taiwan Food Culture is a slick portal that provides a range of information on traditional Taiwanese culture and the food that plays an important part of it.
One of the issues with ‘Taiwanese’ food is that it is difficult to describe exactly what it is. Back home in Australia, members of our Taiwanese community often got together to cook dishes at festivals to recreate the food they missed. Only then were they able to stamp certain dishes as ‘Taiwanese’. Many common dishes in Taiwan are adapted from elsewhere: Chinese, Japanese or even Western cuisine. Yet through fusion, they have taken on their own unique flavours — whether it is the simple biandang lunchbox (Taiwanese bento), pudding (mimicking Portuguese creme caramel), or beef noodle soup (introduced by post 1949 immigrants from northern China). This website is a useful resource for bringing information and descriptions together of key dishes in the Taiwanese cuisine. It does not contain everything, but still there is a good representation.
Surfing through this website, I was intrigued to learn more about the history of danzi noodles. And of the poetic background to the deliciously fatty dongpu pork. There are also several informative short videos to watch, including a beautiful documentary on Taiwan’s tea culture and a colourful clip on the role of food in traditional banquets. Nor is it all about old-fashioned food — the site explains the origins of ‘stir-fry 100’ and Taiwan’s famous pearl milk tea. And there is even a section on indigenous food.
This site is a must for anyone interested in Taiwan’s cultural heritage. Unfortunately, it does not include recipes. But be warned: don’t watch on an empty stomach as it is liable to make you hungry.