A Feast for the Senses
The June Aside at the Red Room was a feast for the senses in more ways than one.
The evening was an educational journey through the many tastes and flavors of this island. From Hakka Chinese to indigenous cuisine and traditional bandoh style banquets, our knowledge of Taiwan’s rich and diverse food culture was enriched and enjoyed by all who attended.
Katy Hui-Wen Hung 洪惠文 is an avid collector of recipes and culinary stories as well as a passionate advocate of Taiwanese cuisine. Her frequent travels have become a journey through Taipei’s food culture, past and present. She spoke about her discoveries while writing her soon to be released book on A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai, co-authored by Steven Crook.
Chef Lin Ming-Tsan 林明燦 shared his knowledge and experiences as a 總舖師 Bando master chef, a tradition handed down from his father and grandfather. His display of knives dating back from his grandfather’s time and the must-have items a good bandoh chef requires was a rare treat to witness. He is known as A Master Who Recreates Old Favors. ~ “I carry the torch to continue my father’s legacy”
Chuan Chun-Yi 全俊逸 is from the mountain Bunun tribes of Xinyi in Nantou County. A shepherd by trade, he spoke about the abundant life force brought out by the earth and the sustainable management of land, life, and food by the Bunun tribe. Chuan also prepared a feast for all to share with his classic mutton tomato stew and fresh wild vegetables. Accompanied by Mochi and rice wine freshly prepared by his mother.
Special thanks to each of the presenters for their time and sharing. Thank you to Chun-Yi for the delicious feast and to our generous partners Canmeng Aveda and Granola House for sponsoring the gifts. Thanks to Romona Guan for on the spot translations.
洪惠文（Katy Hui-Wen Hung）是一位食譜與故事的收藏者，也同時是台灣飲食文化的倡導者。她在台灣的各種旅遊經驗讓她能更充分了解到台北食物歷史的過去與現在。洪老師為各位觀眾述說了她與Steven Crook一起合寫的新書：「A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai」，而我們都很期待這本書的出版。
林明燦（Chef Lin Ming-Tsan）跟著祖父與父親的腳步貫上辦桌總舖師頭銜，當晚與紅坊大方分享了他的各種知識與經驗。 林老師更特別帶來了祖父與父親傳承下來的各種刀具與現場分享它們悠久的歷史與各種用途。就如號稱「傳承古早味大師」的林師傅說道：「我在延續我父親的事蹟。」
Photos of the evening can be viewed here.
We hope to see you at the next Aside. Stay tuned for updates. Sign up for our monthly e-news so you never miss out on a great opportunity to visit the Red Room!
The Well of Words
Memories from ninety-nine Stage Time & Wines
On the 16th June, Red Room will host its 100th Stage Time & Wine. This milestone represents over eight years of events hosted by Red Room, an ever-growing community, and an ever-stronger ‘culture of listening’. If you have been to Red Room before, it is likely you have felt the special kind of energy that resonates from the walls. If you haven’t visited Red Room yet, the 100th Stage Time & Wine may be the perfect opportunity for you to feel it for yourself.
“Stage Time & Wine is a build-your-own event where each participant is invited to contribute to the creation of the evening”
Ayesha Mehta, Red Room Co-founder
Anything can be shared within the Red Room: voices, stories, poems, songs, instruments, dances, ideas, memories, sounds, murmurs, silence. At the heart of Red Room is a ‘culture of listening’, so I believe it would most appropriate if we share the words of others in this article. I have rummaged in the Red Room archives and unearthed memories, personal experiences and voices from ninety-nine Stage Time & Wines.
In the beginning: an idea
Red Room was born from words. It all began with a conversation between Ayesha Mehta and Ping Chu when a fortuitous rainshower caused their paths to cross in Dulan, Taidung in 2009. This conversation planted a seed, which released its roots into the Taipei artistic community and began uniting individuals with a common passion.
“In this web-connected world we live in today, we have stopped practicing deep listening and are losing the human connection on the personal level. We are busy doing, not being. Being allows us to grow and feel the bliss we are all capable of experiencing.”
This is the vision that Ayesha shared with Ping. Her dream of creating a ‘listening space’ was the building block upon which Red Room could grow. Ayesha’s seedling of an idea sparked an interest and inspired others. Before long, a group of friends gathered to plan an event where participants could express themselves freely and listen deeply to each other. Ayesha’s brother, Manav, came up with the name ‘Stage Time & Wine’.
The first Stage Time & Wine took place in the Learning Kitchen. As Roma Mehta described it, the friends “put things together”; they experimented with the space, hung up shawls as stage curtains, created a ‘bar’ through each sharing what they had, and then hoped people would come along to enjoy the evening. Nobody could have predicted that the event would take off in the way it did.
“We didn’t really plan for Red Room to be what it’s become. It’s grown every year. We definitely didn’t know when we were sitting around the table what Red Room would become.” (Charles Haines’ memory of Red Room’s creation)
“The first Stage Time & Wine event was filled with laughter, raucousness, honesty and a room full of strangers entering into intimacy and giving towards each other.” (Ayesha Mehta)
Words of Red Roomers: what does Red Room mean to you?
“It’s the shaky rushy feeling that washes over me when I step up to the microphone.” (Rose Goossen)
“We’ll embrace it, applaud it and dream with it when the night ends.” (Leah List)
“When we were introduced to Red Room, it was like a door opened… to myself.” (Ruth Landowne Giordano)
“The act of sharing my work and listening to others recharged my battery every month.” (Daniel Black)
“If we can make people feel, if we can be REAL, even for a moment, by giving form to our creativity then we have achieved something.” (Trevor Trebotski Tortomasi)
“At the core, it is about restoring the lost spoken word and creative expression, sharing, and listening.”
(Ping Chu, Red Room Co-Founder)
“The word artist holds no boundaries, it’s not marked by a mustache or a hat…”
(Extract from a Red Room poem by Manav Mehta)
Constance Woods’ memory of a young woman sharing a love letter at Stage Time and Wine: “A frisson of a moment sparkled through the room.”
Emily Loftis’ memory of painting Ping’s shirt in an interactive stage time performance: “You don’t have to be an artist to understand the simple pleasure of spreading paint over canvas. But there was something more to this experience as well. Ping was doing exactly what Red Room offers everyone who comes through its doors: an invitation to leave your mark.”
Beyond the four walls: Red Room’s social impact
Like a pebble thrown into a pond, Red Room has stirred up a rippling effect across the Taipei artistic community. Conversations happen in the Red Room. We feed off each others’ energy and inspire one another to take our ambitions further. We collaborate, form bands, put on plays, create art together.
“Together we did create a community or a tribe of like minded people who want to participate in something bigger than themselves.”
Red Room has provided a platform for young artists to experiment, find their unique style and put their work out there. “They help promote the young artists who otherwise would probably have difficulties doing so… We support one another. It’s all about contributing to the community.”
Stepping into the Red Room is also the beginning of an individual, internal journey; we are dared to take risks and to be real. “Red Room is mesmerizing. Now I can dream bigger, feel better and aim higher than before.” (Tina Ma)
What surprises will the 100th Stage Time & Wine have instore for us? The Red Room team have an ambitious aim to involve 100 performers for the 100th gathering… and there will surely be 100 glasses of wine to accompany! Gather with us and share this precious moment, cherish the open platform for expression, and add your voice to the well of words.
The Farther Route
Do you like how twisted I am?
Are you willing to take the farther route with me?
There is no light,
but it is said to have more stars.
There is no sign post,
but there are many unnamed flora.
Do you want to live in a warm ocean?
Are you willing to approach a shark out of sheer curiosity?
I always think of you at critical moments
as if you could wake me from my nightmares.
If There Were a Next Life
I would spend my next life
As a beautiful deer,
Dashing into the road when you were driving
For your sincere remorse.
I would spend my next life
As a petit snail.
On the sidewalk after the rain,
I’d quietly be crushed by you
So that I could live on the sole of your shoes
And follow you wherever you go.
I would become a
Located in a
Perfect love poem
To make you slightly surprised
And to make you wonder about
The meaning of my existence.
Some verses are sad by nature,
such as Love, such as We.
We–Can you understand?
It requires two people or more
to do the same things, such as
making love, or coming across difficult words,
or reading similar stories,
or writing sentences that make one another feel
suffocated at an instance.
I will not ask you ever again, things like
how you’ve been, how the weather is
where you are, if it’s raining,
if you’re still kidnapped by the reality, or
if you’re still afraid, you’re
still shaken in the middle of a storm.
I know the mere existence of somethings
make people sad.
I just didn’t think even these hearts
are broken through our collaboration.
I don’t know about you, but the rain here
has been hitting my window nonstop.
Every raindrop is a needle
piercing through our history
and then slowly sawing it back together.
Are you still where I left you
just as I had once waited for you?
Sooner or later someone will have to leave first,
sometimes dying in life
sometimes an inextinguishable flame
rise in one’s dreams.
Some verses have always been upsetting,
I know, for instance what you’ve told me, about
us. Everything turned miserable
after you and I are no longer we.
I come across difficult words,
read similar stories,
tell lies that suffocate myself.
All lies are voluntarily told.
Same are decay and diaspora.
Same as you and I.
〈所有人都起飛了只剩他在原地〉 by 林禹瑄
Everyone Has Taken off, Leaving Only Him on the Spot
Everyone has taken off
Leaving only him on the spot
Stepping back and forth, blinking, lighting a lighter,
Using burnt fingers to rub some icy desire.
The floor in his eyes was still the floor
The wall was still the wall, and the self mirror on the wall
Was still having the annoying look,
Living in the house like a wasteland,
Making hollow sounds:
No splendid fire, no man-eating flower,
and no soft branch leading to the deep end of the universe,
bringing back the answer to life–
He still has questions, but no one answers them.
Everyone has taken off
Leaving only him on the spot,
Trying to burn the extinguished prairie,
Believing that repeating the same uselessness
At the same frequency
Will make himself useful,
Such as reading about communism, drinking diet coke,
Such as believing that ordinariness
Brings one safety and happiness.
“But nothing happened.”
No clock hand that went counterclockwise, no shiny memories,
and no expanding galaxy silently devouring
a life time of regret and depression.
He knew that the world had problems,
But he didn’t know where he had made a mistake.
He remained silent. Everyone said
Silence was right.
And yet everyone has taken off,
Leaving only him on the spot,
Walking back and forth, blinking, and lighting a lighter,
Continuing to breathe sincerely
“Nothing becomes better.”
He unwrapped a piece of chewing gum,
Chewing himself plain.
He felt lonely,
He felt he was extra,
But he didn’t
Put on a disappointed look.
A minute still contains 60 seconds, and afar is still afar.
Standing under the sun
Still makes him want to make a wish.
Everyone has taken off,
Leaving the best of life behind.
He puts the ashes in his pocket,
Sometimes watering it, sometimes burning it.
When it rains,
Only he has a secret.
Only he can see the new-grown mushrooms.
By Lily Yen
Earthquake Survival Guide
by Tobie Openshaw
(first published in the Taiwan Observer)
Looking back at the last 20-odd years of earthquakes and disasters in Taiwan and elsewhere in the region, one can learn a few lessons and prepare some necessities to ensure that you can survive similar scenarios to what we have seen play out here.
1. AT HOME, BUILDING DAMAGED, BUT YOU CAN GET OUT (The 9/21/1999 Earthquake)
During the earthquake of 9/21, we were living on the 10th floor of an apartment building in Taoyuan.
The building swayed to such an extent that our bed moved away from the wall by about a meter.
We got the kids into jackets and shoes in between violent aftershocks, and got them down the stairwell and bundled into the car.
We covered them up with the duvet we had brought down with us, drove to an open space, and spent an uncomfortable night sleeping in the car. The next day we spent driving around because there were still aftershocks and we thought the apartment was unsafe.
7-11 remained open but all necessities were quickly sold out.
All other businesses and restaurants were closed, ATMS were dead, so we were running out of cash.
On the 3rd day we found a lone bank employee with a generator, running one ATM!
We snacked on whatever we could find at 7-11.
Eventually we returned, but we had no electricity and no water for over a week. We did have gas supply so we could cook. The most severe problem, that was the most immediately sign that you were in a state of emergency, was the fact that without water, you can’t flush the toilet.
We developed a system of only flushing once a day, and getting water out of the swimming pool for that. Carrying a 20l can of water up 10 flights of stairs was no joke, and that was barely enough for one flush. The men peed into the sink. It was almost 2 weeks before things were normal again.
2. AT WORK (The Fukushima 2011 earthquake)
You’re at work. You are uninjured but you need to get home.
You don’t know where your loved ones are or if they are safe. PHONES ARE DOWN.
Cell Phone networks are vulnerable to damage to towers, complete power outages, and system overload immediately after a disaster.
In Taoyuan after the 9/21 earthquake it took several hours before I was able to send and receive text messages.
During the Fukushima earthquake, some of my colleagues in Tokyo chose to walk home because all transportation was halted. Some of them walked for FIVE HOURS in very unsuitable shoes.
3. AT HOME, BUILDING TOPPLES, YOU ARE TRAPPED (The Tainan 2/6/2016 earthquake)
You wake up to the building toppling. Everything happens incredibly quickly. Everything slides down, you are trapped at an awkward angle, with only the stuff next to your bed in a mess around you.
You get the weight of the bed off you where it crushed you against the wall.
The water pipes break and the water tanks on the roof tip out their contents.
There is a gush of water, some of which drenches you.
You are stuck in a narrow space because the floors pancaked. It is dark and cold.
You can smell gas. A piece of rebar gashed your leg. It’s not bleeding too badly, but you’re not sure if it’s fractured. You are in shock.
It may take hours, even days, before rescuers can get to you.
You need to let them know you are alive so they can hone in on you.
You need to dry out, give yourself first aid, you need to keep warm, and you need to keep your spirits up. You have to stay alive.
Some general thoughts in no particular order:
Have a plan
When the building is violently shaking and shelves come crashing down, it’s well past the time for you to think, “Aaaah what should I do?”
Discuss with all members of your household, and have a solid plan.
LARGE-SCALE DESTRUCTION such as in Haiti or Nepal is uncommon in Taiwan.
It’s usually just single buildings that go down. If your building is still standing after the first shake, chances are that it will stay that way. If you can get out, you are safe – you can get to shelter, you will get government assistance, you can also go stay with friends or family – Best to have this conversation before disaster strikes.
Remember to take your house keys, with you, keep duplicates in your bag – you don’t want to evacuate, stay outside in the cold for a while and then discover you’ve locked yourself out of the house.
Keep your floors clear of kids’ toys etc. … you don’t want to be tripping over Legos in the dark.
Include your pets’ needs in your preparations.
If you keep your shoes by the door, keep at least a pair of flip flops right by your bed.
A car provides shelter and warmth and relative comfort, and the ability to get out of danger. If you have one, it is a very important part of your plan.
Check Websites/FB Groups if people offering help and rooms, and mark yourself safe.
EVACUATION CENTERS are usually at a school in the neighborhood. Go there to get help, to be accounted for, and to find loved ones. Don’t just bug out and go sit it out somewhere without letting people know you are safe.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE EARTHQUAKE HITS
Usually the following applies:
The building starts shaking. You wake up and assess.
Is the building just swaying, and then stops? You can probably just go back to sleep.
Is the building groaning and things falling off shelves? You should probably leave.
Is the building tilting/pancaking, pieces of concrete breaking out of ceiling and walls? – You should protect your head as best you can, ride it out. This will be a very violent experience, it usually happens VERY quickly. You will probably be hurt. Once everything settles down, check yourself for injuries, control any bleeding first, get your flashlight from your grab bag, and seek an escape route. Be careful of upsetting things that are precariously balanced. If there is no escape, keep warm, treat yourself with what you have to hand, try to communicate to let others know you are alive and your location (blow a whistle, tap on beams or pipes) and sit tight. YOU WILL BE RESCUED. The Taiwan Rescue Services are very experienced, very well equipped, and they do not stop before they have every single person accounted for.
IF YOU DECIDE TO EVACUATE
It’s best to NOT try to run out of a building when things are still shaking and falling. That’s the most vulnerable period. It’s best to STAY and COVER. Get under a table or bed or doorway (pick out suitable spots in EACH room beforehand) or whatever will protect you against falling things. Wait for the shaking to subside.
Now grab the THINGS ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE and your BUG OUT BAG (be prepared for aftershocks, take cover again if they come immediately)
PUT ON YOUR SHOES, PUT ON A JACKET, GRAB CHILDREN OR PETS, (maybe sit out another aftershock)
TURN OFF WATER AND GAS MAINS
THEN GET DOWN THE STAIRWELL AS CALMLY AND QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
ONCE OUTSIDE, you now have the option to wait and see if it’s safe to go back inside, get in your car and get out of the area, or, if your building catastrophically collapses, vacate the area so that emergency services can get in, and get to a shelter.
NOTE ON IF YOU WANT TO HELP:
Some people will find their first instinct is to help others who may be trapped. In fact, in most disasters, such as the Haiti and Fukushima earthquakes, the first 24 hours is when MOST people are rescued – mostly under their own steam, or helped by relatives and others – many of them dug out by people using their bare hands. Therefore in my earthquake kit I have a hammer, cold chisel, hacksaw, pry bar, gloves, goggles and helmet. However, while I have had SOME experience with this kind of thing, I know my limitations. Once the trained and equipped emergency services arrive, give them whatever useful information you may have, then GET OUT OF THEIR WAY.
The FIRST RULE of rescue work is: DON’T BECOME A CASUALTY YOURSELF.
EARTHQUAKE EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT LIST
This is my list. Yours may be tailored according to your needs. Some of these are essentials, others can be described as “comfort Items”.
1. ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE:
Here you should have the stuff that you really cannot do without, things that you can grab in an instant – or, should you be trapped, they are immediately to hand.
Phone on charge
Wallet with money and ID
Automatic flashlight (plugged into wall, this keeps its charge and switches on automatically when there is a power failure)
2. BUG-OUT BAG
This bag should be tailored to your specific needs and will change depending on your household situation, do you have pets or children to provide for, etc. You might prepare a bag for each member of the family. This should ideally also be reachable from your bed.
Folder with personal documents
Powerbank for phone plus variety of cables
Wallet with 5k and small change Masks
Light plastic raincoat/s
Small roll plastic bags
Spare Reading glasses
Spare keys to everything including car
Hard candy/chocolate nuts
Small first-aid kit:
Water purification tablets
Any meds that you depend on
USB Memory stick with:
Scans of Passports
Emergency contacts in other city/country
Change of socks/underwear
Pry bar for jammed doors
Spare batteries for flashlight
Strong metal water bottle
Small battery-powered FM radio
Roll of plastic bags
Helmet (skating helmet is cheap and will protect against falling things.)
3. Elsewhere in your house:
Know where the electricity, water and gas taps are to shut them off. Do so if you have an orderly evacuation. In fact, it might be a good idea even to turn your gas tap off every evening before going to bed.
Large water container with water (for toilet)
Smaller water container (drinking)
Battery –powered LED Room Light
Large plastic bags
Canned food – soups etc.
Candles (Naked flame only to be used if 100% sure no gas leak!)
Stock of batteries for devices, flashlights etc.
Toilet foam (Spray into bowl to cover sight and smell so you can flush less.)
Battery-powered FM Radio
4. Always in car:
Silver windshield sunscreens
5. EXTENDED CAR KIT
What you keep in your car is a very personal choice. Many things like food on this list will spoil if you leave in your car too long. Maybe you could have a bin in your house in which you keep those items, and only put it in your car during heightened risk periods, like typhoons approaching, or earthquake swarms like we’ve been having. You can also check the expiry date on things at least once a year and swap them out. I like to camp so a lot of the stuff I have in my car is to survive in an outdoors, camping, living-out-of-the-car situation, but that would be almost unheard of in Taiwan, you will be better off going to a shelter or with friends.
Camping stove and gas canisters
Camping pot x 2
Baby stuff (Even if you don’t have a baby yourself, diapers are good for wound dressings, and also for barter with families with babies)
2 small Towels
Flip Flops for everyone
Wide duct tape
20l Water bottle
Roll black garbage bags
Disposable underwear & socks
Water and gas main wrenches?
Dental floss (roll, many uses)
Green oil for insect repellent/smell
Solar charging panel
Blow up travel pillow
Spare camera battery
Pack of cards
Rope – paracord, climbable rope, towing rope
FIRST AID KIT
Bottle of saline
Foodstuffs – candy, trail mix, energy bars
Cans of food
6. At the office:
Small backpack with:
Empty water bottle (fill up from water dispenser immediately)
Emergency phone numbers of family members
7. TO GRAB:
All the stuff you keep by your bedside
8. TO BUY immediately if available:
Draw all cash money if possible
Water – 20l
In closing, remember that Taiwan has had a lot of experience in dealing with disasters, and if you can survive the first hours of an event, you will probably be ok.
BE PREPARED, AND BE SAFE!