By KAREN SHENG
For The News-Letter
The Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) hosted its Tour of Taiwan event in the Glass Pavilion on Sunday. The free annual event featured foods and activities characteristic of Taiwanese culture, a raffle and information about Taiwan.
To represent Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, there was a station offering scallion pancakes, flatbreads with green scallions sauteéd in oil that are popular street food in Taipei. Also featured was a workshop where people could learn the art of traditional Chinese knot-making. The decorative knots are said to bring good fortune and prosperity.
The scallion pancakes were particularly well-received.
“My favorite aspect has been the scallion pancakes,” freshman Nina D’Amiano said.
To represent Taichung, there was a station offering boba-milk tea, or bubble tea, which was first concocted in the city in the 1980s, and a calligraphy workshop for attendees to try out traditional Chinese calligraphy.
“I didn’t know that boba was Taiwanese. I have a new appreciation for Taiwanese culture because I really like boba,” D’Amiano said.
To represent Tainan, there was yóu fàn, or Taiwanese sticky rice, a rice dish usually cooked with pork, shallots and mushrooms and melded together with soy sauce and vegetable oil.
Co-President of TASA Brynda Tsai explained why TASA chooses cities to explore the food and crafts of Taiwan.
“We just always want to pick different cities every year… We look back to last year and think of what different things could we do,” Tsai said. “There are certain foods that are related to Taiwan, so we try to bring those in and just share those.”
TASA Co-President Evelyn Ho said that this year bubble tea, scallion pancakes and sticky rice were highlighted because these foods in particular are important to Taiwanese culture.
“The programming chair and event director… brainstormed on different recipes, foods that we think are very characteristic to Taiwanese culture, which is why we picked boba, which was first developed in Taiwan, [and] the sticky rice dish, which is a pretty basic rice staple dish in Taiwan,” Ho said. “We really just wanted to promote our culture and share it with people on campus.”
This year’s Tour of Taiwan was different from past years because the event tried to focus less on food and more on culture.
“We were really worried that instead of promoting culture, people were just coming here to get free food and taking and leaving and not really learning what Taiwan is about, which is why we [had] a lot more variety at our different stations this time,” Ho said.
According to TASA programming chair Allan Wang, a raffle was incorporated into the event to incentivize people to stay for the entire Tour of Taiwan. Attendees were handed a punch card at the entrance of the event. Punches from four stations redeemed one raffle ticket and punches from five or more stations redeemed two raffle tickets. The prizes included a plush turtle and gift cards. The winners were sophomore Patricia Kim, sophomore Shuheng Wang and junior Johanna Kim.
Flyers detailing the history and cultural context of the foods and crafts featured in Tour of Taiwan were strewn on the tables, and there was a presentation highlighting Taiwanese culture.
“This year we tried to do something more, where we created pamphlets for each table so people can sit down and read a bit more,” Tsai said.
Sophomore Alex Lau praised the event’s organization and efficiency.
“So far I think it’s been pretty good. They definitely organized it well enough and haven’t run out of food,” he said.
D’Amiano agreed with Lau, saying that the amount of food consistently available throughout the event was a plus.
“I came around 8:15 p.m. and I was kind of worried, because at a lot of things they usually run out of food, but [there was] plenty of food, plenty of boba, so I’m pretty happy,” she said.
Tour of Taiwan was well-attended, with people packing the Glass Pavilion. Tsai said that the turnout was comparable to that of other TASA events.
“Tour of Taiwan is our largest event of the fall semester, and I feel like this was a good turnout, as usual,” she said. “Usually we run of food very fast, but I think we always try to see what happened last year and improve, so we made more food this time.”
Wang said that more traffic control was installed around the Glass Pavilion to accommodate the 400 people TASA expected to attend.
For the spring semester, TASA plans on hosting their Night Market, which is a yearly event similar in size and scope to Tour of Taiwan.
“In the spring semester we’ll be holding Night Market, which is our biggest event of the year,” Wang said. “In Taiwan, there’s this Taiwanese night market where you have food stands [and] people doing performances, so we try to emulate that, except during the day and in a more controlled area. We’ll serving food, [and] other clubs can come represent themselves.”