Recalling a Time When Dinner Was Cooked over a Fire – 2019 Guanshan Story Festival
Traveling through the East Rift Valley along Highway 9, there are sweeping mountains, drifting clouds and field after field of golden rice spikes with a train passing by every now and then, as you arrive in story-filled Guanshan Town. In autumn, when the weather is comfortable and pleasant, sample and enjoy local life during the Guanshan Story Festival.
Daily Life x Walking Tours
Local guide Lin Guo-Qin led a tour on daily life in Guanshan. Although it rained a little bit, no one's spirits were dampened. Rather, this provided a different perspective for visiting, exploring and remembering. Lin's stories of this town facilitated an in-depth view of streets and alleys. The "A Kind of Style Called Small Town" app was developed to complement this event, the purpose of which was to enable people to travel back in time, slow down their pace and stroll through lanes and alleys to experience the different stories of Guanshan.
The main events and achievements exhibition of the 2019 Guanshan Story Festival took place at the park on the corner of Minquan and Sanmin roads and at the old house base "Guanshan Shemeshe" (next to the De Sheng Tang Pharmacy) (No. 63, Minsheng Road) on Saturday, August 31 from 2:00 to 6:00 pm. At Guanshan Shemeshe, there was an exhibition on notable people. The park was the location for a market and the starting point for a walk focused on daily life. Other events included "Bringing Art Home" concerts and cooking over a fire, enabling participates to experience old houses and town life. This festival also brought back childhood memories for some of cooking over a fire.
Bringing Art Home x Courtyards of Old Homes
"Bringing Art Home x Courtyards of Old Homes" broke through conventional thought on performance venues. Residents with a courtyard had the opportunity to host performing arts groups and singers, invited by the organizer. This brought performers, audience members and residents closer together and created emotional bonds. It also served to share the stories of residents and bring art into people's lives.
As the rays of the sun bathed the event venues in a soft glow, people sat on mats and blankets as they listened to music. They gained an understanding of the local culture, lifestyle, and hospitality, through the foods and other products sold in the market, such as woven handicrafts and other handmade items, nostalgic clothing and accessories, pastries, indigenous-style grilled pork, uniquely-shaped macarons, organic fruits and juices from Luye, quiches, and thin-crust pizzas cooked over a charcoal fire. There was also the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
As the sky slowly darkened, it was time for the anticipated cooking of dinner over a fire. Explanations were provided on how to light a fire and the best methods for cooking. For this event, rice processed using traditional sun drying methods was prepared. Compared with rice processed by machine, sun dried rice is stickier and more fragrant.
Each family divided up the labor of starting a fire, washing rice and preparing a meal, for a non-technology-based form of entertainment. As parents watched their children helping and heard them asking if the food was ready yet, it was like returning to their childhoods, when they often saw their grandmothers fanning a fire, waiting for the right amount of heat to start cooking.
Special guests showed off their cooking talent, using movements familiar to them to stir-fry dishes. The aroma was overpowering, resulting in a line of people holding bowls and chopsticks waiting for dinner to be served. They sampled Hakka-style stir-fried dishes, dried turnip omelets and braised pork belly.
Dish after dish was completed including innovative corn with mushrooms and rice, sweet potato strips with steamed white rice, vegetable risotto and seaweed hand rolls. Everyone ate together, sharing the dishes they prepared and their thoughts on this method of cooking. They even told stories of Guanshan’s past and funny experiences from their childhoods. It was a wonderful and emotional evening!
It seemed that in no time at all, the events of the day were coming to an end. Those who attended this festival felt that it was like visiting an old friend in a rural area. The hospitality and warmth that they experienced were unforgettable! Moreover, people were moved by the old stories and buildings and felt a sense of responsibility in promoting their preservation.
The charms of Guanshan should be experienced over and over. The beauty of Guanshan should be admired again and again. Let us write a new chapter in Guanshan’s history together. We look forward to once again encountering the stories of Guanshan.