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NP QUARTERLY

December 2019

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The Flavor of Taijiang - A Story of Local Culture and Food

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The Flavor of Taijiang

A Story of Local Culture and Food

Article / Pi-Na Wu

The sea breeze carries a salty smell in the air, the sun shines warmly down on the earth. In the fish ponds surrounded by green embankments,the water mist brings a trace of coolness; at the shoal under the foot, there are fish swimming in the shallow water.This is Taijiang, which is located in the western coastal area of Tainan City and is the first wetland national park in Taiwan.Where the land meets the sea, this place has the highest ecosystem productivity on earth.The muddy and soggy land seems to be unfavorable to human habitation, but it is actually rich in all kinds of species. Numerous fish, shrimps, crabs, and shells inhabit and breed here,therefore, this place is known as"wetland granary".

The ocean, estuary, lagoon,sandbar, tidalcreek, and farmland contain abundant food sources and supplies the food on our table. Take a bite of the seafood: milkfish, clams,oysters, groupers, crabs, they are full of the fresh flavor of the sea and tides. Carrots, shallots,burdocks, and small tomatoes give out strong aroma which reminds people of the vast land that is illuminated by the sun and brushed by the sea breeze.

From the Taioan bird’s eye view map drawn by the Dutch East India Company in the17th century, people can clearly see the full scenery of Taijiang inner sea. / Source: Creative Commons Taiwan
From the Taioan bird’s eye view map drawn by the Dutch East India Company in the17th century, people can clearly see the full scenery of Taijiang inner sea. / Source: Creative Commons Taiwan

Milkfish – the Taste of Tidal Land

Taijiang in history was an inland sea more than 400 years ago.It was shaped like a narrow triangle.This vast inner sea where whales can be spotted contains abundant aquatic creatures. The famous Ming Dynasty writer Shen Guangwen once described, “Minnows, bagrus,mudfish, carps caught in big bamboo net are cooked f reshl y in the morning and evening; clams, oysters,mussels, crabs from the fish pond have been constant delicacies of both rich and poor. Scales in the sea cannot all be listed, shells among the tides cannot all be named. Netting mackerels and hooking whales...”One can truly picture the abundance of aquatic products in Taijiang inner sea at that time.

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