台灣味覺行腳

舌尖的未竟之旅
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2019 / 3月

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧莊坤儒


原生、移民與殖民的交融,廣納各方的台灣飲食,恰似所謂「橫看成嶺側成峰,遠近高低各不同」,屢屢有著令人驚奇的發現。

 


 

踏入獨擁兩層豪邸的山海樓,難以想像台北鬧區仍有這般的深宅大院存在,復刻1930年代的木雕花窗、牌樓石牆,猶如抵擋了時光,召喚出老時代的風華。

在這樣的空間,端上了一道由鑲金瓷盤盛裝的「扁魚春捲」,酥黃餅皮,裹著由扁魚、銀芽、蝦仁製成的內餡,佐上一盅金澄的雞高湯;這一道可溯源至日治時代的「酒家菜」,滋味清新俊逸,雖然看似熟稔,卻又令人有幾許歡喜的陌生。

在地食材,台味上菜

近年,當「台灣菜」、「台灣味」成為下一波飲食趨勢的關鍵字,台菜也逐步扭轉只有清粥小菜、海鮮快炒的刻板印象,如同山海樓這般兼顧菜色、器皿、服務與空間的高檔餐廳,已然打破過往「台灣沒有台灣菜」的成見。

根據長年研究台灣飲食文化的台灣師範大學台灣語文學系副教授陳玉箴的觀察,當前的台菜浪潮,醞釀已逾二十年。

約從1990年代末期開始。由於政府大力投入社區總體營造,以「一鄉一特產」作為發展策略,並積極舉辦節慶活動,好比白河蓮子節、東港黑鮪魚節,創造經濟效益之餘,也為產地與本土食材作了盤整。

「政策、論述與市場,三個環節緊緊相扣,若只有藝文論述,卻沒有經濟效益,風潮也無法持久。」陳玉箴說明。

尤其在2005年以後,名廚名家更積極表述,好比海歸名廚江振誠舉辦「台灣味」論壇,飲食文化工作者如葉怡蘭、陳淑華等人撰文不輟至今,逐一廓清台灣飲食文化的脈絡,加上國內豐饒的農漁牧物產作為強大後援,與消費市場的綜合效益,使得台灣味的浪潮方興未艾,至今仍在持續。

黃婉玲

經典大菜重現於世

千禧年之際,前總統陳水扁將碗粿、虱目魚丸湯端上國宴餐桌,接地氣、象徵著庶民飲食的台灣小吃,開始浮上檯面。

台灣小吃壓倒性的鋒芒,甚至讓許多人認為,台灣只有小吃,沒有大菜。

不過,出身府城世家的黃婉玲可不這麼認為。

她從家族記憶娓娓談起,原來,曾追隨著鄭成功來台的家族先祖,在台南建功封地,甚至以製糖為業,富甲一方。所謂的富過三代才懂吃喝,正如她的寫照,富庶環境的生活環境,為她累積了豐富的飲食閱歷。

台灣有大菜,無庸置疑。黃婉玲自身便可佐證,除了昔日因應政商酬酢之需,在酒樓吃的「酒家菜」,好比著名的螺肉魷魚蒜,過去在大戶人家裡,還有由家廚掌杓,在花廳享用的「阿舍菜」,以她的家族為例,甚至有因著婚嫁之故,跟隨著新嫁娘傳入的「嫁妝菜」。

富豪之家的私房菜與餐廳菜的出發點截然不同,不僅不計食材、時間成本,製作方式的繁瑣程度往往令人咋舌,同時還能傳遞出家族的背景與精神,相當精采,只是,由於製作方式密而不傳,加上社會結構轉變,多已不復存。

單純出於個人的好奇,也因著對老味道的喜愛,約從三十年前,她即起即行,尋訪碩果僅存的老師傅,受惠於成長環境養成的品味,以及家族經營製糖事業,對於甜味的敏銳,布袋雞、五柳枝魚、通心鰻等百多道老菜,重新端上餐桌。

黃婉玲說明,台灣由於移民的背景,人民生活大多窮困,因此沒有餘裕發展出繁複的醬料,主要僅以鹽、糖、醬油、醋來調味,這也造就了台菜擅長表達食材原味的特性。

藉由鮮味的提調、食材的碰撞與交融,加上繁複的重重手工,令許多菜餚雖然其來有自,卻能原曲變奏,滋味更勝一籌。

正好比中菜各大菜系都有的香酥鴨,但台菜的香酥鴨,經過滷、蒸、炸等重重工序,連骨頭都酥綿可食,臻至「屍骨無存」。

 

蘇紋雯、陶桂槐

家庭餐桌上的族群融合

是以料理的保存,須扎根於日復一日的操演。大菜如此,家常菜亦如是。

當台灣以美食聞名,弔詭的是,台灣人卻越來越少開伙為自己做飯。前些日子,美食家王宣一驟逝,詹宏志便回憶著,許多她所擅長製作的家味,過去往往習以為常,竟就瞬間絕世。

「家常菜、家滋味,和餐館裡常見的菜不一樣,若沒有日日操作的人,一代代地去傳承,其實非常難保存。」對此,蘇紋雯心有戚戚。

她與大學學妹陶桂槐共同創辦的「魚麗人文共同廚房」,全然另闢蹊徑,以商業空間的力量,矢志收藏民間流傳的家味。

魚麗的起家菜「桂花鹹水鴨」,滋味腴潤鮮爽,吃來齒頰留香,便是源於蘇紋雯的母親。

雖是家庭料理,但可不表示就簡單做。魚麗也有幾道功夫菜,如江浙名菜的蘇式燻魚、四喜烤麩、十香菜,但教她們的不是餐館裡的師傅,而是來自餐飲名門、永福樓創辦人的遺孀葉林月英。

「據說,當年永福樓的熟客,一年可以上葉府吃一次家宴。」蘇紋雯說。即便是費工的宴客菜,依舊不脫「家味」的軸線。

會形成此獨特的經營方式,其實一點兒也不奇怪。

十多年以前,彼時身體微恙的蘇紋雯,為了養傷,當時同居一個屋簷下的兩人便日日開伙,因著人少難做菜,索性邀集十來位的好友來到家裡輪流下廚。

當背景不同的人們齊聚一堂,信手捻來的家常菜南轅北轍,這讓蘇紋雯開始察覺到,原來家家戶戶都來都有幾道私藏的手路菜。

正如同當時的光景,這樣日日更替、擁抱各方菜系的用餐模式,也孕育出日後館子的經營模型。

如今的魚麗,四菜一湯的套餐,菜單融貫大江南北、日日變換,正是主要特色之一。

餐桌上的共冶一爐,對蘇紋雯來說一點兒也不奇怪,本省家庭長大的她回憶著,昔日生活的嘉義老家,與空軍眷村正相隔著一條街,母親拿手的桂花鹹水鴨,實則是南京名菜,還有鄰居浙江奶奶的荷葉粉蒸肉,都是熟悉的家味。

「在那個年代,省籍意識還很強烈,但奇怪的,餐桌上就是沒有。」她說。

可見得,吃,常是最單純直接的方式,表達了和解與包容。

由於年輕時遭遇到未婚懷孕的人生急轉彎,性情溫軟的蘇紋雯,總不忍旁觀他人痛苦。

經營館子的她,在許多關鍵時刻,自然而然地選擇以食物作為媒介,為許多走投無路的人,提供身心的安頓。

好比一連4年,藉每月探視的機會,為冤錯案的受刑人鄭性澤送上便當,直到無罪獲釋。食物成為不需言明的交流,特地為茹素的鄭性澤開發了兩百多道素食料理,道道都傳達出對死囚的聲援,鄭性澤的母親則傳授了苗栗老家酸柑茶的作法,成為店裡的飲品之一。

執業13年,像這樣出於各樣因緣際會,逐步累積下的菜譜,已超過千道,「這些是人生紀念品。」蘇紋雯說得珍重。

由她們所照顧的家暴婦女,同樣也是學習的對象。採用肥美的豬五花絞肉與豬皮,再添上紅麴增色熬煮成的紅麴肉燥;另一道化骨秋刀魚,以洋蔥番茄醬汁同燒,再經過壓力鍋的淬鍊,不僅入味,連骨頭都可以食用。

口味討喜、營養豐足,且方便一次大量製作的媽媽菜,仍是一貫的母親本色,絲毫沒有半分的自艾與怨嘆。

近來在套餐上頻頻出現的滇緬菜,則來自於她們的朋友、在台灣相當少數的泰緬孤軍後裔。

源自雲南的辣醃菜炒肉末,與來自緬甸的茶豆沙拉與黃金三角包,這是一般泰緬餐廳也罕見的邊境鄉土菜,濃凜鮮爽的滋味,不僅是移民身世的註記,也如無言的家書。

因此,食物是支持,也是賦權,每一道菜餚背後都是身世與人情的流轉。

不論生活再怎樣艱難,都能在同一張餐桌上被圓融。

 

陳靜宜

華人飲食系譜之對照

包容性強大的台灣菜,無私地擁抱了各方門派,因此,想透闢地了解背後的來龍去脈,海外的探索成為了必然。

始於馬來西亞友人的熱情邀約。飲食作家,同時也是資深美食記者陳靜宜,選擇馬來西亞作為海外考察的第一站。

台南女兒的她,踏上了美食之都檳城,才驚訝地發覺此地與故鄉有許多肖似之處。

好比與閩南語相近的福建話、多樣化的庶民小吃,加上當地人在文化上若有似無的優越感……「彷彿是在不同的國度,有一群人過著與台灣如此相似的生活。」她這樣形容。

與庶民生活相濡以沫的小吃,更猶如孿生倒影。台灣的擔仔麵,猶如此地的蝦麵;台灣的雞捲,換了名字叫滷肉;甚至是客家擂茶,被稱作河婆擂茶,只是滋味由甜轉為鹹……種種若合符節,隱約透漏了彼此的身世秘密。

「那個驚豔感,實在很難用言語表達。」陳靜宜回憶著第一次接觸到馬華飲食的心情。

這樣的心情,開啟了之後2年,6~7趟不辭千里的密集遠行,每次停留動輒半個月以上,累積下將近300家的飲食閱歷。

曾經考據過台灣飲食的她,終於從千絲萬縷的線索裡,發現了台馬兩地的華人,如出一轍的身世。原來,昔時先民為了討生活,勇於橫渡險惡的黑水溝,到台島開墾;同樣在清末時代,也有閩粵地區的人民,以性命作為賭注,下南洋討生活。

移民往往攜帶著原鄉的口味,在異地生出新貌,由於台馬華人系出同源,又身世相似,因此造就了兩地的食物既陌生又親近的特性。

曾經考據過台灣飲食的她,視野瞬間擴大,像從受限的斷代史提升到通史,從微距進展到全幅,「一口氣拉高了我對食物的立體感、空間感與時間感。」她這樣形容。

陳靜宜說明,過往因為場域囿限於台灣,難免有許多瓶頸,但藉由不同地區華人飲食的對照,尤其是與台灣較親近的中國沿海、東南亞,也能順勢解開許多久懸未決的疑問。

她以台南人愛吃甜來說明。不少人以為台南人嗜甜,是因為過去產蔗糖,有錢人想藉著吃糖以彰顯身分地位,「但台灣到處都有糖廠,況且,吃糖也不是唯一詮釋身分的方式。」她發出疑問。

直到造訪過潮汕,她才察覺當地人對甜味的喜好,與台南人相較甚至有過之而無不及。

而台南地區其實潮州人口不少。好比街頭巷尾常見的三山國王廟,便是潮州人的祭祀中心;或者是潮汕口味的沙茶火鍋、汕頭魚麵的店家等。也許台南人如此嗜甜,便是受潮汕口味的影響。

「瞭解得越多,再回頭來看,雖然是同一道菜,看的角度也已不再相同。」陳靜宜說。

以移民為主的台灣,每一道菜餚,背後都象徵了一個超乎想像、枝蔓橫生的文化系譜。

到底什麼是台灣菜、台灣味?難以用三言兩語說明,或許多元混成、面貌難辨正是台灣飲食的宿命,但更重要的是,能在尋找答案的過程,因著了解,懂得接納彼此的不同。

恰如陳靜宜所說:「討論台菜,不是要講從哪裡來,才是正宗,而是去知道它的脈絡;因為知道過去,才可以走向未來。」

相關文章

近期文章

英文

Tracing Taiwanese Tastes

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Geof Aberhart

“Seen from the side, a whole range; from the end, a single peak / Far or near, high or low, no two parts alike.” These opening lines of a poem by Su ­Dongpo about China’s Lu­shan mountains could equally be describing the variety found in Taiwanese cuisine. A blend of indigenous, immigrant, and colonial contribu­tions, the cuisine of Taiwan has a diversity that makes it full of surprises.

 


 

Stepping into the luxurious Mountain & Sea House, it can be hard to believe that such a sprawling complex, complete with outdoor garden, could still exist in bust­ling Taipei. With its old-fashioned, 1930s-style wooden window frames and stone arches, the restaurant recalls the glory of a time gone by.

Here one can enjoy “cabaret cuisine” (jiu­jia­cai) that goes back to the Japanese era, featuring items such as flatfish spring rolls—stir-fried flatfish, beansprouts, and shrimp meat wrapped in crispy, golden spring roll wrappers, served in gold-edged porcelain bowls with a side helping of chicken broth. Fresh and flavorsome, while these dishes seem familiar, they nevertheless have a pleasing un­famili­arity to them.

Local flavors on Taiwanese tables

Recent years have seen Taiwanese cuisine become a key focus of the next wave of dining trends. Taiwanese food has gradually begun to escape the stereotype that it comprises little more than congee and stir-fried seafood, with high-end restaurants like Mountain & Sea House bringing together dishes, tableware, service, and spaces to shatter the old idea that there’s no such thing as “Taiwanese cuisine.”

According to Chen Yu-jen, an associate professor of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature at National Taiwan Normal University and a long-time researcher of Taiwanese culinary culture, this new wave of Taiwanese cuisine has been brewing for more than two decades.

It all began in the late 1990s. The government was invest­ing heavily in community empowerment, launching the “a specialty product for every township” strategy for rural develop­ment and holding a variety of festivals and events like the ­Baihe Lotus Festival and the Dong­gang Bluefin Tuna Festival. Beyond their economic benefits, such events also helped consolidate pricing and production of various foodstuffs.

Since 2005, through efforts such as celebrated chef André ­Chiang’s Taiwan Flavor Symposium and a continuing stream of articles by culinary culture experts like Yeh Yi­lan and Chen Shu­hua, the context of Taiwanese food culture has gradually been clarified. Moreover, the strength of the domestic agriculture and fisheries industries and consumer market synergies have helped the rise of Taiwanese flavors continue to this day.

 

Huang Wan-ling:

Bringing classics back to life

At a dinner celebrating the turn of the millennium, then-president Chen Shui-bian presided over a banquet that featured local dishes like milkfish fish ball soup and savory uánn-kué rice pudding. This was an indication that folk cuisine was making its way to higher-class tables.

The overwhelming popularity of Taiwanese street food (xiaochi) has led many people to believe that that is all Taiwanese cuisine has to offer.

Huang Wan-ling, who comes from a family with a long history in Tainan, begs to differ.

Her family can trace its roots in Taiwan back to the 17th century, when her ancestors followed ­Zheng Cheng­gong to Taiwan and established themselves in the sugar business. They say that it takes three generations of wealth to truly appreciate the finer things, and over the generations, ­Huang’s family laid the foundations of her own culinary expertise.

Taiwan has as much of a heritage in gourmet cuisine as in folk cuisine, that is beyond doubt. In addition to the cabaret cuisine that evolved in response to the need to entertain political or business guests, ­Huang also points to the fare known as “a-sià dishes,” which would be prepared in the homes of wealthy families and enjoyed in a lounge room.

The meals produced in the private kitchens of such wealthy homes were starkly different from those made in restaurants. Private kitchens, for one, did not have to worry as much about the cost of ingredients or the preparation time needed, and so the ways such meals were made could be staggeringly complex. Furthermore, the dishes prepared would often communicate the background and spirit of the family, sometimes in spectacu­lar fashion. However, with the recipes of such dishes generally closely guarded secrets, as time passed and the structure of society changed, many of them were lost.

Out of a combination of personal curiosity and a taste for old-fashioned dishes, about 30 years ago ­Huang set out to visit the few remaining old master chefs to learn from them. With their guidance and the benefit of her own background and the tastes it had cultivated in her, she was able to pick up over 100 of these classic dishes.

 

Su Wenwen and Tao Guihuai:

Ethnic fusion on the family table

The preservation of cuisines has to be rooted in day-to-day efforts. This is as true for home-style cooking as it is for gourmet cuisine.

While Taiwan is famous for its food, paradoxically fewer and fewer Taiwanese are actually cooking for themselves. When well-known foodie Wang ­­Hsuan-yi passed away a few years ago, her widower, Jan Hung-tze, recalled that many of the dishes she excelled at and which had become so familiar to him essentially died with her.

“Family recipes are different from the food you see in restaurants. If there’s no one to make them regularly and to pass them down, it can be almost impossible to keep them alive.” This is something that deeply concerns Su Wen­wen.

Together with college friend Tao Gui­huai, she founded Yuli Common Kitchen, with which the pair have chosen to forge a new trail, harnessing the power of a com­mercial space to collect and pass along family recipes.

The dish they began with, brined duck with osmanthus, leaves a lingering, fresh flavor in the mouth. They got it from Su’s mother.

It might be a home-cooked recipe, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple. Yuli also prepares other, more gourmet recipes, including well-known ­Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang dishes like Suzhou-­style smoked fish, deep-fried sliced gluten with “four joys” (daylily, black fungus, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms) and ten-ingredient mixed veget­ables. However, these weren’t taught to Tao and Su by chefs from high-end restaurants, but rather by Ye-Lin Yue­ying, widow of the founder of Tai­­pei’s Yun Fu Lou Restaurant.

“They say that back in the day, regulars of Yun Fu Lou would get invited to the Ye household once a year for some home cooking,” says Su. Despite the dishes being labor-intensive, they’re still built around home-style ­cooking.

The path that led to this way of doing business is, in retrospect, not at all surprising.

A bit over a decade ago, as Su was recovering from an illness, she and Tao decided to begin cooking for themselves. With it much easier to cook for a group, though, she invited a group of friends over, who then started taking turns cooking for everyone.

This group, hailing from a variety of backgrounds, began to share their family recipes, and Su started to realize that every home had its own few specialties.

It was from that rotating roster and open embrace of all kinds of dishes that the recipe for Yuli Common Kitchen grew.

Today, the restaurant’s menu spans dishes from all over Greater China, changing every day but always offering a set meal of four dishes and a soup. This has become the restaurant’s trademark.

Su herself was already no stranger to this kind of sharing of meals from all over. She still remembers how, when she was a little girl, her mother would take some of her brined duck with osmanthus over to the neighbors in the air force dependents’ community a street over and then come back with some freshly made ­Nan­jing food, and how an older neighbor originally from Zhe­jiang would share her lotus-leaf-wrapped steamed pork with sticky rice with them.

“Even though back in those days people really cared about where your family was from, at the dinner table none of that mattered,” she says.

Food really can be the most straightforward way to bring people together in acceptance and tolerance.

 

Chen Ching-yi:

Comparing Chinese cuisines

Taiwanese cuisine has a tendency to be very welcoming to dishes of all kinds, so often­times if you want to seek out the roots of a dish, you’ll find yourself having to head abroad to explore.

For veteran food writer Chen ­Ching-yi, that exploration began with a warm invitation from a Malaysian friend.

Raised in Tai­nan, she was surprised to find so many simil­arities with that hometown when she set foot in Malaysia’s gourmet capital, Penang.

The street food, similarly born of a need to make do with meager resources, was strangely reminiscent of that found in Tainan. The ta-a-mi (also known as ­danzi noodles) of Taiwan had its counterpart in the local shrimp noodles, Taiwan’s “chicken rolls” (actually pork rolls) were known as lor bak, and even Hakka lei­cha was available, albeit in a savory form rather than the sweet Taiwanese style. The comparisons between the two revealed the little secrets of their respective pasts.

With this experience under her belt, Chen spent the next two years traveling thousands of miles on half a dozen trips of two weeks at a time, accumulating re­cipes and histories from some 300 restaurants.

Having already thoroughly looked into Taiwanese cuisine, Chen followed hundreds of clues and threads to find that the Chinese communities of Taiwan and Malaysia ultimately share a common origin.

Just as early migrants to Taiwan arrived on the island having braved the perilous Taiwan Strait to find a better life, in the late Qing era a similar migration from the Fujian‡­Guangdong region saw settlers make new lives in Southeast Asia.

Emigrants often take with them the flavors of their homes and give them new looks in their new lands. It is that similarity in origins that makes the cuisines of Malay­sia and Taiwan simultaneously familiar and strange to the peoples of each location.

With this realization, Chen found her world suddenly expanded with a new awareness of history not as a series of fragmented events, but as a constant flow. Armed with a newfound appreciation for the bigger picture, “it was as if cuisine took on a whole new sense of space and time,” she comments.

In the past, she explains, having restricted her scope just to Taiwan meant she hit a lot of dead ends, but by comparing Taiwanese dishes with those in other Chinese communities, especially those closer to Taiwan such as the Chinese coast and Southeast Asia, she was gradually able to find answers to a number of long-standing questions.

“The more you know,” says Chen, “the more of a different perspective you get when you look back at the same dish.”

In Taiwan, a nation primarily of settlers and migrants, each dish has a story and cultural pedigree behind it that is almost beyond imagining.

So in the end, what actually is Taiwanese cuisine? That is a difficult question to answer succinctly, and perhaps that lack of clarity is to be its fate. What is more important, though, is that the process of looking for the answer leads us to greater understanding and, through that understanding, acceptance of the differences between us.

As Chen ­Ching-yi says, when we talk about Taiwanese cuisine, we should be less concerned with where it came from than with how it got here, because it is by knowing your past that you can move forward into the future.

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