My experiences told me that food can comfort one’s mind with a very unique healing power.
As a Taiwanese proverb says, eating and emperor are equally important to a civilian. It shows how much food means in Taiwanese life style and culture. Taiwanese food plays an important role in my Dutch life too. Whenever I get homesick, I enjoy making Taiwanese food for myself; when I have foreign friends over for dinner, I always share Taiwanese food culture with my guests, too. I deeply believe sharing food with friends or beloved ones can certainly shorten the distance between one and the other.
Two years after moving to Delft, I can finally say that I have adopted myself to Dutch life style. Fortunately, few weeks after our arrival, I came across a group of international moms with kids inside HEMA coffee shop. I was desperate as a new comer so I tried to reach out and gladly discovered Delft Mama. It has helped me tremendously by joining Delft Mama to figure out most of the necessary and useful information, which I call “the survival tips”.
I am grateful to have met many wonderful international mom friends and found my orientation in Delft. However, I had to admit that from time to time, I still miss communicating with my fellow Taiwanese friends in my own mother language and especially have craving for traditional Taiwanese cuisine.
I come from Taiwan which is really a gourmet paradise. Living abroad means I no longer have the easy access to lunch boxes, food stands, night markets, 24-hour restaurants, and convenience stores round the corner. Once in a while, my husband and I used to spoil ourselves with some Taiwanese fried chicken and assorted vegetables at night while watching a film after our baby fell asleep. That’s right! Instead of popcorn and Coke to go with movies, we do have a lot of exciting treats options, too!
Two years ago, in 2014, before we came to the Netherlands, I did some researches and found out there was only one Taiwanese mother in Delft although there were some students from Taiwan at TU Delft.
We came here in June. Like now, it was very close to Dragon Boat Festival, one of traditional Taiwanese festivals. I saw an advertisement for a Taiwanese food van at a food festival in Den Haag. We, of course, drove there to find some tastes of home. However, we were very shocked by the price we had to pay for a “zongzi”, which is a glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves and is typical for this day. My French husband teased me about it but that was the price I had to pay for being homesick.
In order to be economical and, most importantly, to have my favorite food warm on the dining table, it is very common to make two to three meals a day nowadays. However, with a 20-month old boy in a new environment, cooking was sometimes challenging back then. Not to mention that I was new to Delft and didn’t know where to find my Asian ingredients. So, you can imagine that going to Amazing Oriental (www.amazingoriental.com) and Wah Nam Hong (www.wahnamhong.com) supermarkets was like finding the Treasure Island for me.
Soon I found out there are a Taiwanese association (Taiwan Shian Chin) and a women community (National Women’s League of Republic of China – the Netherlands) in this vicinity. Just like amazing ladies in Delft MaMa, I got to know some enthusiastic Taiwanese ladies. Every month, they organize a potluck party at home of a different hostess. Sometimes we cook together or even plan activities to learn something new before lunch. I am certainly very excited to see many homemade dishes each time. These Taiwanese foods enrich my Dutch life as well as the precious friendship that has been built up with my Taiwanese and all the international mom friends!
Food is really an interesting medium to bring people together. I once held a lunch party with acrylic painting workshop at our house and prepared a hot pot for my guests. It was nice to be connected to Taiwanese moms across the Netherlands. I have various occasions to meet some of them from time to time at different events. It’s true that food is involved at every gathering.
As I mentioned, food is an important element in Taiwanese life. I become closer to some Taiwanese ladies because of their great cooking skills. They share homemade dishes with me every week, and I sometimes go to their residences to learn cookery. Lately at our dining table in an evening, my husband said to my son that “Mom always makes delicious food, but now she cooks even better.”
Therefore, besides discovering new culture and meeting new friends in The Netherlands, being away from my homeland has an extra bonus—providing a training opportunity to upgrade my cooking skills and intensify my recipe collections!
H. Phoebe HUANG MARZEC is a Taiwanese mom and a writer living currently in Delft.
H. Phoebe Huang Marzec
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