Aboriginal community’s pastries hit the spot, but you can’t buy them — just yet 部落美食 霧台鄉隱藏版「女王蜂」月餅 未開賣先轟動

Wed, Sep 11, 2019 - Page 14

With the Mid-Autumn Festival long weekend upon us this week, there are an eye-popping array of moon cake gift boxes on sale. However, in Pingtung County’s Wutai Township there is a special variety of “moon cake,” only available for a lucky few gastronomes.

Using locally produced taro and honey, members of a Rukai Aboriginal community in the township, in partnership with township representative Ko Hsin-hsiung, have created a new variety of festive cake, which they have christened “golden taro queen bee cakes.” The pastries have caused a sensation within the community, but at present, they are not available for sale to outsiders.

The cakes are filled with locally grown taro with “forest honey,” while the outer pastry is sprinkled with pollen gathered by honeybees and glazed with egg yolk. They are fragrant and sweet but not cloying. A number of foodies have tried to get their hands on some, to no avail.

Ko explains the reason why the cakes have already sold out is partly because they insisted on using locally produced honey, pollen and taro, which are only available in limited quantities, but also because they didn’t want to make too many of a new product. Ko says he plans to introduce a preorder system next year, which will enable sales outside of the township.

Ko says the community has been actively promoting a “forest economy” and under the guidance of Chen Mei-hui, a professor at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology’s Department of Forestry, they have established more than 100 beehives within Wutai Township. Tended by members of the community, the bees feed off pollen from plants and trees within the forest, producing a unique variety of “forest honey,” which is key to the cake’s delicious flavor, Ko says.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Morakot. When the typhoon struck, Ko and three young members of the community banded together to rescue people trapped on the mountain and escorted 135 people down the mountain to safety. After the event, Ko was given the title “hero of Chiamu,” the name of the Aboriginal community. After the disaster, Ko continued to provide assistance, establishing a production and marketing group to facilitate sales of the community’s products, and founding the “Rukai People Special Products College” within Chiamu Elementary School.

Ko says at present there are about 20 Rukai People studying at the college and credits them with the creation of the “golden taro queen bee cakes.” Students at the college have also used other locally produced ingredients such as Formosan lambs-quarters, millet, chili peppers, taro, sweet potato, pumpkin and dragon fruit to create a range of products including biscuits, noodles and chili sauce. Ko says they plan to start selling their products online and at the designated community store, to give more people an opportunity to savor their delicious produce.

(Translated by Edward Jones, Taipei Times)