Past Exhibitions

Special Exhibition

The Taste of Hometown: Southeast Asian Flavors

The Taste of Hometown: Southeast Asian Flavors

  • 2017/7/22 - 2017/10/22

White Palace Performace Hall . Park Area Location

Nanmen Park

The exhibition uses food and related cultural behaviors to create the links between Taiwan and the motherland of new immigrants. The exhibition shows the common herbs, plants and spices from Southeast Asia accompanying the following themes, “Features of Southeast Asia Landscapes and Climate,” “Features of Southeast Asian Cuisine,” “Recreating the Taste of Hometown,” and “A Future Connection with Southeast Asia.” Thus, the exhibition represents how people reconnect with their hometown through the sense of taste and shows the traditional cuisines and lifestyles of Taiwan’s new immigrants from Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia: My Hometown
Southeast Asia is currently the home of 154,000 new immigrants in Taiwan, and the grandparent’s home for 360,000 second-generation children. There are around 644,000 industrial immigrant workers and social welfare nurses. In total, Taiwan has 1,150,000 new immigrants and migrant workers, forming countless ties with Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia Climate and Its Geography of Production
Southeast Asia generally refers to the land and the massive sea area of South Pacific and Indian Ocean, south of the Asian continent. Recently, the academia often uses “Archipelagic Southeast Asia” and “Peninsular Southeast Asia” to demarcate it. This region is located on the equatorial rainforest and Tropical monsoon climate zones, leading to the biodiversity in this area. 
Usages of Island Features: Hunter-Gatherers in the Rainforest, Overseas Exploration and Marin Trading, and Colonial Cultivation
On many isles at a disadvantage for farming conditions, residents gathered rainforest resources for use. Local resident traded popular raw materials like clove, nutmeg, and pepper via marine voyage for the living. 
River Plains and Delta: The Land of Fish and Rice
In the middle and southern sections of Peninsular Southeast Asia, people have developed settlements along the alluvial plains, alluvial fan and delta of a river, living by paddy rice farming and fishing.
Hills and Heights: Swidden Farming (Slash-and-Burn), Terracing, and Gathering
In the north of Peninsular Southeast Asia, the method of shifting cultivation (swidden agriculture) was widely practiced, involving the skills of cutting, burning, plowing and fallowing. This rotationally usage of the land was to maintain its fertilization in an effective way. In the hills and heights of the peninsula and islands of Southeast Asia, terrace farming also exists, which preserves water in layers to avoid quick loss of irrigation water.
Southeast Flavors: Features of Southeast Asia Cuisine
Abundant Products of the Tropics: Primitive Ingredients Nurtured by the Southeast Asia Climate (Raw Food)
The local products, resulting from the conditions of monsoon, ocean current and cultivation and shaped by history, culture and religion, have developed into a unique food culture. In most areas of Southeast Asia, rice is the staple food. The main variety is the long-grained indica (Oryza sativa indica). The cooked rice is fluffy and non-sticky, very suitable for absorbing the flavor of sauce or soup.
Culinary Tones of Southeast Asia Food
A lifestyle depends on climate and environment. It is scorching hot in the tropics where since ancient times people have relied on pungent seasoning to preserve food and have cooked with smelly spices to evoke the sense of taste and work up an appetite. The culinary methods of Thailand and Vietnam, both situated on the river plains, often involve the ingredients like fish sauce, spice plants, fruits, fresh vegetables and fish.
Culinary Tones of Southeast Asia Food: A Great Mixture of Spices
Many places in Island Southeast Asia have poor products, sometimes relying on marine trading. The past spice knowledge mostly focused on the preservation of food. Large amounts of woody or fruit seeds are dried and grinded, which are mixed into a spicy base for marinating food. It has gradually become a major culinary method to preserve food and stimulate an appetite in this region.
In Indonesia and the Philippines, large amounts of turmeric, galangal, candlenut, cinnamons, peanut and cumin seeds are mixed as ingredients. Furthermore, Indonesians would add more chili and Asian shallot to create an intense and spicy flavor, very suitable for cooking fish, meat or vegetables. Therefore, the daily homework of local families is to mix dried spices in various proportions for crushing or grinding.
Recreating the Taste of Hometown: Hometown Feeling at the Dining Table
In the ever-changing history, the development of cuisine has always connected with natural and cultural environments.  New immigrants, by way of food, bring their individual hometown flavor into Taiwan.  They lead the people of Taiwan into further understanding of Southeast Asia through cuisines and make everyone see the important force that supports the basic industries of Taiwan.
Savoring a Southeast Asian dish not only evokes the sensitive taste buds but may also lead to more understanding of the cook’s feelings and emotions if provided with a few stories and the original history behind a cuisine. Whether Vietnamese spring roll and sour fish soup, Thai stir-fried minced pork and rice noodles, or Indonesian yellow rice, all of them contain strong affections for hometown and life stories of the sisters who live on a foreign land.

Venue: White Palace, Namen Park.  

The Taste of Hometown: Southeast Asian Flavors
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