Along with the rise of democracy in Taiwan, there has been an increase in environmental consciousness.
According to a 2015 Brookings Institution paper, one of the main tenets of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party from its inception has been environmental protection.
Although the government’s record has been far from perfect, President Tsai Ing-wen has pledged to close down nuclear power plants and pursue sustainable alternatives, turning the country into Asia’s “green-energy hub”.
This environmental ethic will also be on display at TAIWANfest, which begins in Vancouver on Saturday (September 5). And it will be centred in the kitchen, thanks to a local blogger.
Felicia, a young Canadian-born woman with Taiwanese parents, doesn’t divulge her surname on her Feliciasfabfoodz website, preferring to only use her given name. Her blog includes dozens of recipes for colourful creations suited to anyone with a hankering for healthy foods.
"I don’t really like to label my diet, but I do eat mostly plant-based,” Felicia told the Straight by phone. “I also eat mostly gluten-free and refined sugar–free.”
For TAIWANfest, she is creating an alternative to a traditional Taiwanese dish known as three-cup chicken. She’s going to replace the meat with tofu for a famous Canadian creation, poutine, in a form of food fusion that’s never been tried before.
“I thought that this three-cup chicken— or tofu—would go really well on top of fries,” Felicia said. “I want to show people how versatile tofu is and how there are so many different things you can do with it. A lot of people tend to think it’s bland or just boring.”
She has also prepared a second video called "Green Onion Potato Gnocchi". It's inspired by gnocci from Italy, as well as green onion pancake and oyster pancake sauce from Taiwan.
Felicia is a ballet dancer, and she readily conceded that she hasn’t always had a healthy relationship with food.
“I always like to order the weirdest thing on the menu,” she declared. “I guess I just had to work really hard on trying to find a balance by eating foods that I know have more nutritional value and will make me and my body feel better while tasting as good as the real stuff.”
This isn’t the only healthy-food component of TAIWANfest. In addition to Felicia’s presentations, the festival will broadcast the story of a Taiwanese “soy sauce engineer”, Kuo Pin Wu, who uses no additives in the brewing process. His family has been making Wan Feng Soy Sauce for three generations; according to the festival, he kept black beans by his bedside, caring for them like a girlfriend. Perhaps this explains the title of his presentation: “I have a date with soy sauce”.
“He developed his own programs to meticulously record bacteria growth and the fermentation process,” the TAIWANfest website states. “His programs also allowed him to precisely control the water quality, humidity, and temperature to create the perfect environment for the soy sauce. He insists on the traditional method of fermenting soy sauce, as it is good for the body and environment.”