By William Ysaguirre
The Taiwanese-Belizean community shared its culture and an authentic taste of Chinese cuisine with Belizeans at a food festival, hosted by the Republic of China (Taiwan) embassy and the Belize-Taiwan Chamber of Commerce at the Memorial Park in Belize City on Saturday, March 7.
Ambassador Benjamin Ho was there in person to welcome former Prime Minister, Manuel Esquivel, several Belize City Councillors and all Belizeans to the food festival, which marked the culmination of the Chinese community’s annual celebration of their annual Spring Festival, which began with the Chinese New Year on Thursday, February 19. In Belize City, the embassy began its celebration of the Taiwan Cultural Festival with the opening of a traditional Chinese art exhibition at the Bliss Institute on Friday, February 13.
The Chinese community in Belize City began its celebrations of the Spring Festival with the traditional dragon-dancing and drumming in front of all Chinese business establishments on Saturday, February 21, with the exchange of gifts, poetry scrolls and fireworks.
This year’s Spring Festival marked the beginning of the Year of the Goat/Sheep. The Spring Festival is a time for Chinese family reunions with the enjoyment of their best foods and pastries, the exchange of gifts and well-wishing for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
The goat or ram is well-regarded as an animal which brings good luck; and people born in the year of the goat are believed to be generally gentle, calm, peaceful and amiable, with a tough inner resilience to see things through and persevere towards their goals.
The Chinese people’s enjoyment of fine food and pastries during Spring Festival was shared at the Food Festival, which was a gourmand’s delight. Belizeans could sample over 30 different kinds of traditional Taiwanese foods. There were spring rolls stuffed with meat and vegetables, car wheel cakes, honeyed sweet potato, peppered-and-salted chicken, roast chicken, sweet-and-sour chicken, and pork strips.
Those who like Running-W’s sausage-on-a-stick would have enjoyed the grilled Taiwanese sausage. There were also dumplings, tea-flavored eggs and glutinous oiled rice.
Other foods were more of an acquired taste, such as the vegetarian vermicelli, chilled noodle, sushi, fried tofu and indigenous Paiwan cuisine.
There was also the Taiwanese favourite beverages: “bubble milk tea”, iced lemon tea, and other tea drinks, to wash down an assortment of desserts and pastries, such as mochi, sun cake, and taro cake.
One booth also offered face painting, twisted balloon toys, as we often see Ozzie the clown make, and other fun games of chance and skill.
The Pantempters steel band played a wide repertoire of music from their travels to entertain.