Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival? No! BBQ Day!

Earlier, I ran a blog article that was about BBQ season opening and why Taiwanese don't like to use gas barbecues.

This time I've decided to delve into the BBQ/Mid-Autumn Festival linkage. I've always found it strange that people in Taiwan BBQ in the Moon Festival period (even in the heart of the city on the pavement or sidewalks outside their homes or businesses, the oddest thing seeing convenience store clerks BBQing outside their locations!). In China, no such BBQ custom exists for the Moon Festival. So how did barbecuing and Moon Festival become linked?

Although it has been hard to find the true roots of this modern Taiwanese tradition for the holiday, I do have a theory. It's basically the same reason Valentine's Day, Halloween and Christmas have become so important as well. Money! These holidays promote spending on chocolates, flowers, candies, decorations and gifts to say the least.

This way companies that are not supplying the enormous onslaught of moon cakes that occurs this time of year can also get a slice of the pie. My wife said that BBQ Sauce companies probably led the way and then the BBQ related product companies have since fueled the tradition.

This is evident at the hypermarkets. At Carrefour the other day was a wall of disposable BBQs with tons of chopsticks, tongs, plastic plates, bowls (not very environmentally friendly mind you, but we are in Taiwan!) and everything you could think of for a BBQ. We are talking big money here! Not to mention the BBQing food and charcoal!

Interestingly enough, Taiwan's EPA (environment protection) has been coming down hard on the BBQ custom this year due to carbon monoxide (CO) pollution:

Mid-Autumn Festival BBQ accused of being 'eco-hazard'

So what did the mayor of Taipei do? Just ignore the recommendation.

"Choosing not to follow central government's suggestion, Hau said
the Mid-Autumn barbecue is an important celebration for the public
because it creates opportunities for people to interact with
neighbors and friends."

Agreed! Why take away the fun? (Although going back to my original article, gas BBQs might be the solution as they burn cleaner) But will fireworks and firecrackers and incense burning for other festivals be spared in the future??? I'm not so sure.

Anyways, the Da-chia Riverside Park has been designated as an area that families can go to BBQ together, complete with city services to help them out.

Get involved. Have a BBQ with friends and try some homestyle Taiwanese BBQ cooking! Just remember to clean your trash afterwards or else the EPA will really be on your ass!
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