Narrow bridges

TAIWANfest connects cultures through culinary experiences — Stir

Let’s savor Taiwan: bentogram

This interactive installation at Granville 700 explores the ideas of bento through the works of several artists. “There are different stories behind each bento,” says Charlie Wu, director of ACSEA, noting that the comforting meal is also a basket for the fusion of different cultural backgrounds. “The concept of this installation is to make people talk to each other: ‘What do you put in your bento box?’ Bentogram offers environmentally friendly and culturally interesting bento ideas.

Consider participating artist Allie Huang, chef at Taiwan’s The Alley No. 11, who moved to Tainan from Miaoli. His grandmother, who helps him in the small restaurant, settled in Taiwan after leaving Shandong. By sharing stories that detail the inspiration behind each dish, the origins of each ingredient, and the hard work of farmers, Huang believes the kind of dining experience she provides can make the world a better place.

Huang sources strictly from farmers who adhere to environmentally friendly practices. Mushrooms from the Nantou hills and a variety of fennel-like carrots are sautéed to retain their purest flavor and then topped with edamame, the “green gold” of Kaohsiung. The whole thing is then wrapped in lotus leaves. The dishes Huang will talk about at TAIWANfest reflect an appreciation for family and nature.

Other artists featured in Bentogram will share stories about everything from Hehe Terrace Fields to Gongliao (producers of culinary bamboo grown with the help of oxen) to sambal, Malaysia’s signature sauce. Then there is the king mackerel, an emblematic fish of Penghu.

Also known as Pescadores, Penghu is an archipelago and county made up of more than 60 small islands located about 50 kilometers west of Taiwan’s coast, separated from the mainland by the P’eng-hu Channel.

Spanish narrow-bar mackerel is a classic dish of local cuisine, ideally served with beer, the fish sun-dried then fried in a wok over high heat with garlic and chilli. Penghu Fish Says is a company that aims to educate people through food on how fish make it from the ocean to the dinner table. Fishing techniques, fishermen’s stories and culture of Penghu are also taught. They hope people will develop a closer connection to the ocean by enjoying the fish they eat and contribute to sustainability by choosing seafood sourced through ocean-friendly methods.