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Eat seasonally, eat locally: roadside banquet revitalizes local culture in Zuoying

(Provided by Social Engagement Center) The NSYSU team of the Humanity Innovation and Social Practice (HISP) Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology and local residents and organizations in Zuoying District held “Goodyard Opera: Get Together for a Roadside Banquet” inviting the few remaining excellent local tsóng-phòo-sai (master chefs for roadside banquets) from Zuoying to promote the local feasting culture pān-toh ( roadside banquet). The event included the performance of "Goodyard Opera", an original song in Taiwanese written by Prof. Szu-Hsien Lee who is the Project Coordinator of the HISP Project in Zuoying District, Associate Professor of the Department of Music; the song brings out the vitality of the old-town area in Zuoying District and the festive atmosphere of Taiwanese-style roadside banquets. Besides, the team of HISP in Zuoying also invited the winners of the singing contest of Guo-Mau (a military village in Zuoying) to perform, giving an opportunity for dwellers from different areas in old Zuoying to interact.


Professor Lee said that there are many tsóng-phòo-sai in Zuoying District and that in the golden era of roadside banquet culture, there used to be as many as more than 30 tsóng-phòo-sai around the old-town area. However, with the change of times and concepts, only about one-third of them remained. For this event, the organizers invited a local tsóng-phòo-sai – Shih-Wen Wang (master chef A-Wen), the third-generation successor of Mei Zhen (梅珍), an old brand canteen established 61 years ago. He prepared the banquet bringing out the local features of roadside banquets in southern Taiwan; one of them is fruit displayed in the middle of the dishes that the guests can eat in between the meals, when the host might come to raise a toast. Because this is the season of water chestnut – a specialty in Zuoying, A-Wen served this delicacy as well. He also planned to include local specialties into the menu of 12 dishes, which was a display of the diversity of the local cuisine and included the famous Peking Duck and traditional Taiwanese desserts and snacks.


Professor Lee mentioned that after the event of the “Goodyard Opera: Get Together to Enjoy Songs” in May, the team once again planned an event with the local people of the old-town area in Zuoying to revitalize the local culture. The roadside banquet featured delicacies typical of Zuoying and built people’s awareness that such banquets are not only a tradition of Neimen District, but also Zuoying. Lee hopes that local food and performances can be a way of promoting Zuoying in both Taiwan and abroad and attracting visitors to experience local features and culture, as well as strengthening residents’ local identity. Lee hopes that in the future, other organizations will notice the fading culture of roadside banquets and contribute to local culture preservation. She said that the memories of old times can be passed on in new ways to inject a youthful spirit into the aging district of Zuoying.


In the event participated NSYSU students and teachers, public organizations, local associations and stores, local temples, residents, and even Zuoying District Executive Shu-Hui Wu. Part of the event was a micro course on “Exhibition design: from field to diverse art forms” opened by Prof. Lee and taught cross-university by the postdoctoral researcher of the project Chen-Yi Yang with the Director of Extension Education of Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages I-Chen Lin and his students. They led international NSYSU students in English to understand Zuoying and experience Taiwanese roadside banquet culture – something they found new and “very local”; the performances on the mobile stage truck, something special to Taiwan, left them deeply impressed.


(Edited by Public Affairs Division)


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