Aiyu jelly (愛玉) was voted as the most popular summer snack in a food competition organized by the Tourism Bureau.
The bureau will encourage the consumption of this indigenous snack during the summer travel season among domestic and international tourists, Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh (謝謂君) said yesterday.
“We eat zongzi [粽子, glutinous rice dumplings] during the Dragon Boat Festival, mooncakes at Mid-Autumn Festival and tang yuan [湯圓, glutinous rice balls] during the winter solstice. What do we eat for the summer solstice? Well, aiyu jelly,” Hsieh said.
The food competition, titled “Using the taste buds to travel along the Tropic of Cancer (味蕾遊北回),” was part of the bureau’s Summer Solstice 235 travel campaign.
Taiwan is the easternmost nation among the 16 countries along the Tropic of Cancer, which is located 23.5° north. The northern tropical line runs through Hualien, Nantou, Chiayi, Kaohsiung, Yunlin and Penghu.
For the competition, the bureau first chose 10 popular summer snacks from these administrative regions, including mango shaved ice, aiyu jelly, green grass jelly, cactus ice cream, watermelon, fresh milk from Ruisui Farm (瑞穗牧場), tomatoes dipped in ginger sauce, cold noodles, sweet and sour plum juice, and star fruit juice.
The bureau then launched an online competition, with food critics and travel writers accounting for 80 percent of the final vote. Though mango shaved ice was chosen as the favorite summer dessert by netizens, aiyu jelly emerged as the final winner of the competition.
Aiyu jelly is made of the fruit of an indigenous fig tree grown in the high mountains of Taiwan, which the judges say make it representative of the nation.
Moreover, people can buy aiyu jelly anywhere in the country, which also makes it easier for the government to promote, the bureau said.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuaug-shih (葉匡時) said the campaign was the brainchild of Deputy Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), the former minister of transportation, who was inspired when he saw a program by British Broadcasting Corporation introduce the countries along the Northern Tropics, with Taiwan being one of them.
Hsieh said the Summer Solstice 235 campaign is scheduled to begin on Friday next week, which is the summer solstice. Celebrations that day would begin with the first sunrise of summer in the nation’s east coast.
Travelers can join a carnival of the Aborigines in the East Rift Valley, tour around the forestry culture park in Chiayi City, play golf in Alishan (阿里山) and the Siraya National Scenic Area, or observe the astronomical wonders at the Solar Exploration Center in Chiayi County in the morning.
They can also attend the sunset or the starlit concerts on the west coast or Penghu on that day, he added.