New Gastronomy Theater
Experience Taiwan with your Palate
New Gastronomy Theater
Experience Taiwan with your Palate
In 2019, the iSee Taiwan Foundation launched a new Gourmet Theater ─ the YuanHe Banquet, integrating rich Taiwanese flavors to showcase the essence of Taiwan’s food culture.
- By iSee Taiwan
- Dec. 12 2019
YuanHe Yen – A Banquet to Celebrate the First Year with Harmony and Diversity
In 2019, the iSee Taiwan Foundation launched a new Gourmet Theater ─ the YuanHe Banquet, integrating rich Taiwanese flavors to showcase the essence of Taiwan’s food culture. “YuanHe” means the inaugural year with harmony and diversity. The meaning was taken from the Analects of Confucius, “Gentlemen seek harmony but not uniformity.” The Analects note that gentlemen seek harmony in their dealings, without agreeing on things blindly. When applied to cooking, although each ingredient has its own characteristic, a master chef can bring out their individual qualities in a dish while harmoniously blending them with other ingredients, thus mutually enhancing their flavors. This is akin to the international guests invited to Taiwan, these diverse groups of guests experienced the YuanHe banquet together harmoniously.
The YuanHe Banquet – A Taiwanese Menu of 3 Distinct Elements: Terroir & Culture, Cooking Techniques, Cuisine & Taste
Presenting the richness of Taiwan in a 2 to 3-hour YuanHe Banquet of Taiwanese flavors was quite a challenge. After consulting experts, the Foundation designed a Taiwanese menu that incorporates three distinctive elements: Terroir & Culture, Cooking Techniques, and Cuisine & Taste. Terroir & Culture showcased the wonderful ingredients produced by Taiwan’s unique geographical environment. A colorful vegetable salad made with tomatoes selected from more than 40 varieties, and a seafood platter demonstrating Taiwan’s rich aquaculture, were served as the first dishes. Taiwan’s Cooking Techniques were highlighted with “Buddha Jumping Off the Wall” and Sanbei Chicken, representative of popular (cooking methods) slow cooking and stir-frying. Cuisine & Taste were featured via flavors unique to Taiwan—these were embodied in the Sanbei, a blend of salty and sweet, and represented by Guabao and Peanut Ice Cream Rolls. Originally some of the ingredients were foreign products that were brought by immigrants to Taiwan. However, with local seasonings, the imported dishes have become a distinctive Taiwanese flavor.
The Star of YuanHe Banquet: GuaBao
The YuanHe Banquet debuted in December 2019, the season of year-end gratitude. According to traditional Taiwanese customs, government organizations and companies also hold year-end parties, called “Weiya,” to thank employees and company partners for their efforts and support. The year-end parties call for Guabao, and hence which was selected as the star dish of the YuanHe Banquet.
Guabao looks like the jaws of a tiger biting on a piece of pork, and hence is also nicknamed Hogadi (Tiger Bites Pig). Its phonic sound in the Taiwanese language gives it the meaning of “Bite the Blessing”, making it an auspicious food. Guabao is often served in traditional year-end parties to invite employees and companies to “bite the blessing” and wish them success in the following year. Current knowledge shows that the custom of eating Guabao at a year-end party and the nickname of Tiger Bites Pig originated in Taiwan. This discovery was also an important outcome of the 2017 Food for Fun activity series, held by the Foundation.
Ingredients sourced from 17 counties and cities across Taiwan, diving 600m below and climbing 1500m above sea level, a Sensory Feast to Taiwan with your Palate
Similar to a wine pairing menu, beverages complementing the cuisine were also on offer at the YuanHe Banquet. These included Oriental Beauty Tea, Gukeng Coffee, deep-sea water from the Pacific Ocean (sourced from Hualien, eastern Taiwan), and Taiwanese wine, the winner of 26 international awards for four consecutive years. All the ingredients used in the YuanHe Banquet came from 17 counties and cities around Taiwan, ranging from 600m below sea level to 1500m above sea level. Although our guests could not visit every part of Taiwan, they could experience Taiwan through their palate. In addition, the menu descriptions introduced the guests to the cultural meaning behind Taiwanese cuisine. The star dish Guabao, was presented with a fanfare, with guests creating their own interpretations of the classic dish. Together with a variety of entertainment which included an informative video on the ingredients and a juggling performance that told the story of Taiwan’s history, the banquet was both a learning and fun experience. It became a feast for all 5 senses, winning accolades from the guests who wanted to know the feasibility of replicating the YuanHe Banquet.
International Guests were Amazed by Three YuanHe Banquets in 2019
In December 2019, the iSee Taiwan Foundation presented the exquisiteness and beauty of Taiwan to guests from all over the world through three YuanHe Banquets. These banquets were at the iSee Design Gala Dinner, with nearly 70 domestic and international guests in attendance. These included 21 design leaders from world class design organizations spanning 5 continents, and 18 foreign country Official Representatives to Taiwan and International Chamber of Commerce. The NXTEducator Summit Welcome Dinner included more than 30 educational innovators from 6 countries; and the University Alliance in Talent Education Development (UAiTED) Welcome Dinner, was attended by 70 guests. These included presidents/representatives from 16 top universities in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and guests from Taiwan’s industrial, academic and research communities.
A Decade of Cultivation and Experience – The YuanHe Banquet
Marketing Taiwan requires an inventory of its characteristics and strengths. Situated on the Tropic of Cancer, Taiwan has a subtropical climate. However, its many high mountains also give these regions of the island a cold climate. The diverse weather and terrain produce sweeter and crispier fruits and vegetables, this is also supported by 9 agricultural research and extension stations. Moreover, Taiwan is surrounded by the sea and coupled with the 8 aquatic fisheries and livestock research institutes. These institutes support the development of aquaculture and animal husbandry, with Taiwan also being rich in seafood and animal products.
Since 2011, the iSee Taiwan Foundation has partnered with the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The International Spotlight Central Region Project uncovered a variety of unique cultural aspects, in central Taiwan. The Foundation integrated these local features with industrial resources to design the groundbreaking Gourmet Theater, where local stories form the script and ingredients are the actors. Gourmet Theater events such as the Butterfly Kisses Theme Banquet, the Dragon Palace Feast and the Banquet in Time were held in central Taiwan. The accumulation of these past experiences and continuous improvement resulted in the YuanHe Banquet.