Food does not only satisfy biological needs by curbing hunger, but also brings along social connection, forging bonds between people through having meals together. Food habits reflect regional cultures, where diverse living environments nurture particular tastes and cooking methods. From simple daily meals, to seasonal fine dishes, or commonplace delicacies, each type of food plays a crucial role within a family or society.
Food is a necessity, yet food acquisition depends on the locality of its origin. Regional food culture is formed around food availability, for instance seaside inhabitants fish in the ocean, make belacan, or involve in clam aquaculture; whereas inland folks cultivate land or gather edible food in the wilderness. Food and beverages entrepreneuring is the most ordinary practice, from operating home-based workshops to hawker stalls, or managing retail outlets, they insist on using genuine ingredients, focusing on food quality, and working hard to make ends meet.
The food we grow up eating is associated with warm personal feelings, each bite we taste contains fond memories. Chinese forefathers who emigrated overseas in the early days preserved their native food culture and its context. For instance when Hainanese rice dumplings are consumed during fortunate times, it locks in good luck; when consumed in misfortune, it wards away bad luck. Chinese New Year rice cakes symbolize good prospects; FuZhou Peace Eggs bear hopes for the safety of the entire family; traditional Hokkien bridal cookies——Mua Lao and Lao Huei, all being familiar relishes and collective memories, passing on the legacy of food culture.
As lifestyles change over time, prevailing tastes also alter, moreover some ingredients were hard to source or barely tolerated by the general public, with onerous and complex procedures, these factors caused several authentic traditional dishes to become eliminated. Manchuria Lard Cake is one of them. Being health-conscious and tend to consume low-sugar and low-fat food, the younger generation could not accept its rich and velvety authentic taste, only the older generation FuZhou folks appreciate it. Due to having left their native land or being separated with their beloved family, upon tasting the familiar delicacies, they are filled with nostalgia.
On the other hand, there are people who stood firmly by traditional food, utilizing ancient wisdom, retaining basic procedures to preserve the authentic taste. They improve from performing the same tasks repeatedly, striving for perfection from the tedious procedures. For instance the kiln roasted pork and charcoal roasted coffee, working with flames and fumes, years of experience is crucial in quality control; soft and smooth tofu is strenuously produced under high temperature and humidity.
Food and society, the dishes laid on the table are full of flavours, yet indescribable.
Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Evon Pang
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : Calm Wind from AShamaluevMusic – YouTube
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