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Sat, May 06, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Chen's inauguration banquet to reflect grassroots tastes


The May 20 banquet at Taipei's Grand Hotel for the new president's inauguration will be rather different to previous inauguration banquets, especially its menu.

DPP officials crossed out several dishes from the initial menu prepared by the Grand Hotel, and replaced them with those reflecting Taiwan's grassroots culture.

The Sungkao cake with bean-paste filling (豆沙鬆糕), known to be Madame Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣宋美齡) favorite, was replaced with a taro-and-yam dessert.

The choice has obvious political overtones for Taiwanese, as taro (芋頭) is often used in local slang to mean a mainlander, while yam (蕃薯) means a Hokkein-speaking Taiwanese.

The-Buddha-jumps-the-wall (佛跳牆), a famous dish of stewed meat and vegetables, was replaced with milkfish-ball soup, a common dish at roadside food stalls around the country.

The officials also added the famous Tainan rice pudding (台南碗米果) to the menu, but used chicken instead of the traditional pork for flavor. Yam leaves will also replace fruit and vegetable carvings as dish decorations.

Liquor for the toast, meanwhile, will be Taiwan's own vintage Shaohsing (紹興), instead of Western wines.

Chen's deputy campaign manager Luo Wen-jia (羅文嘉) and other DPP officials first tried out the dishes on April 27. Allegedly negative remarks from DPP officials about the dishes caused a backlash from the Grand Hotel's chefs, who criticized the officials for what they called was ignorance of national banquets.

The Grand Hotel chefs had prepared dishes for presidential banquets since the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) era. Outgoing President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) also used the Grand Hotel's chefs for his inauguration banquets in 1990 and 1996. Lee also did away with many of the fancy dishes that are considered not local.

To quell rumors surrounding the menu, the DPP invited reporters to a second trial held yesterday. The menu was confirmed by DPP officials yesterday after some minor changes.

Meanwhile, the Journalist magazine criticized DPP officials for what it called a "pretentiously native" taste.

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