Article & photos by Lenora A. Hayman
The Labour Day weekend 1st-3rd Sept. 2012, annual TELUS TAIWANfest 2012, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery and along Granville St. was still refreshing after being in existence for 23 years, showcasing a new variety of foods, entertainment and fun, recycling methods.
What a pleasure to have Taiwan’s new Minister of Culture, writer Lung Ying-tai open the festival. Dr. Lung has a Ph.D in English and American literature and has written 30 books, including “Big River, Big Sea-Untold Stories of 1949” about the Chinese Civil War where 10 million folk died when the Communists took power. The book was banned in China.
Chef Tim Teng presented a “Taiwan Stew” by braising a boneless pork shank or ham hock with flavorful additions of cinnamon, chili, ginger, star anise and sweet soybean paste. The tender morsels tasted like delicious, suckling pig. Chef Teng told me that after attending schools in Coquitlam, Victoria’s Glenlyon Norfolk School and Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he returned to his home and father’s restaurant in Kaohsiung. Now Exec. Chef Teng owns 7 dining establishments!
The Tainan Street Banquet had numerous food stalls lining Granville St. offering the Taiwanese sausage, wheel cake, scalded milk fish soup etc. and returning this year, the honey garlic shrimp, lamb, beef and chicken skewers from Chef James Chen’s Xin Jiang Man’s BBQ. Fortunately we can continue getting his skewers at both the Richmond Summer Night Market and the River Rock Richmond Night Market.
Lining the tent of the Tainan Street Banquet were artist Jung-Chen Pai’s huge cloth face masks. One had the traditional floral peony cheeks representing wealth and happiness.
New Taipei City (the former Taipei County) offered a variety of Baozhong tea from Pinglin in the Wenshan District.
A first for me, was snacking on pork fluff (rousong) food topping, made by stewing pork in a sweetened soy sauce. The shredded meat is then lightly oven dried and finally dry-cooked with flavourings, in a wok, until it crumbles.
I spoke to Gary Ho, the CEO of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation of Canada, who explained that this year, their volunteers were promoting the 80/20 lifestyle suggested by their Buddhist founder Venerable Master Cheng Yen who
said, even if poor people could not give money they could pour 20% of the rice on their plates into a rice box to feed the hungry. This can be translated into our economy by reducing consumption of food and using less electricity etc.
They also displayed “food bonsai” created by replanting left-over raw yams, avocado, cabbage, ginger and turnips on moist pebbles that had been washed and sterilized in the sun. These recycled vegetables decorate homes instead of cut flowers.
Also at the Wellness Tent, there were many satisfied folk being helped from interviews with the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners offering their complimentary services.
The Deity Tai Zi Ye with his huge head mask and elaborate costume, who usually dances at a miaohui or temple fair, during New Year celebrations, was providing great photo opportunities.
Displayed at a craft tent were beautiful wine bottle covers designed from the regalia of the 14 Taiwanese Aboriginal tribes.
We were provided with continuous high-level entertainment at the TELUS TAIWANfest stage in front of the Art Gallery.
The Beautiful Haiyan, Wild Harvest Music of Taiwan, a group of Taiwanese Aboriginal people from several nations, provided toe-tapping music and the O-Kai singers consisting of Atayal youths who had participated in the Ward Swingle Award- a worldwide A-Cappella competition held in Austria, sang well.
Pin-Kuan ( former name Victor Wong), was originally from Malaysia, is nicknamed “Prince of Love Songs” due to his smooth style.
In the Never Leave Yen-J Alone concert, Yen-J combined rock’n roll, hip hop, fused Oriental elements with Western jazz and sang a rendition of ” Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree”.
Thank you, for a great, long weekend.