I left off with our travel to Chiayi after tea time with some snacks that most Westerners have never heard of and might think a bit bizarre. Tea time was only the beginning, definitely the appetizer of sorts, to the huge feasts that would happen over the next couple of days. The celebrations of Chinese New Year was emphasized every morning with early fireworks (and I mean before 6AM early) and exclamation marked by feasts every noon and night, that compare in grander to Thanksgiving (and I mean a John Madden Turduckin-Thanksgiving).
I had the pleasure to witness many traditions which are by far much more elaborate and intimate than what I’m used to experiencing. Que: my cousin at the table saying Grace, “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, Amen.”
Offerings are laid out before this land-god shrine and incense is burned. During this time, individuals come and go, bowing and paying respects in between coffee, bat-mitten, scooter rides and more fireworks. Sometimes, they will even burn fake money as gifts to their ancestors.
During our tour of the grounds, Wen-Hung stops at the old pig stalls. Being a ceramics artist, himself, along with the Director of Education Programs at the Ceramics Museum, including the Art Residencies, he ponders out loud his thoughts on turning these stalls into his own giant ceramics studio, and creating live-in artist accommodations next-door to allow his own residencies. A workspace, changing inspiration and the freshest food, everyday and all at home. “Maybe someday.”
A Night of Two Celebrations
When we watched them unload the BBQ grills for the night’s dinner, I kind of laughed to myself. “How are they going to feed all of these people on grills that are so small?? My parent’s grill is larger than both of these grills together, and we just cook for three!”
The secret is to serve dinner for hours. Something we were not prepared for, and saddened by the fact that we ate ourselves full within the first couple rounds of food. Food of all kinds! Salty and sweet are the main types of dishes in Taiwan, but the substance within varies so greatly, that I could never remember what each one was called. This was not helped by the fact that most of the vegetation we ate didn’t even have a name in the English language. The BBQ below is pretty self explanatory. Pork, salmon, shrimp, pigeon eggs, clams, fish heads, fish balls, squid balls, squid head, and much much more were on the menu that night. To save myself and Wen-Hung all the effort in naming each dish later on in blog posts, I will just let the photos or captions give you the details.
|One of my all time Taiwanese favorites – pork on a stick that tastes like it’s been honey glazed|
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/36525248 w=398&h=224]