Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The diet of the Taiwanese Plains Aboriginals

Below is a handout compiled for reference in an English class. The handout is about some rough informations about foods taken by the Taiwanese Plains Aboriginals. (PeN-pou-chok-kun平埔族群;a collective name referring to many diffrent peoples)I would like to share with people who visit this blog. Maybe some of you are professional in this field and would be nice to correct me and tell me more about it.

Staple foods and cereals

They took meat as their staple foods before encountering the aliens. The earlier the clan has been in contact with the new comers, the more they take rice as the staple foods.

Most of the rice people plant and eat today in Taiwan is paddy rice. However in the early days, there were dry rice and paddy rice planted and eaten respectively. Also millets have been very important cereals even in today’s aboriginal communities. People use millets to make wine, so called the millet wine. The wine tastes sweet and delicious.

As for the races, like Taokas and Ketagalan, they contacted Chinese people later than the others. Millets and potatos are more important than rice in their daily diet. An old book(《番社采風圖考》) written in Ch’ing ruling period recorded people digging a pit as an oven, burying the potatos to bake them. We call it khong-io in Holo Taiwanese. It seems khong-io has an aboriginal origin.

Other plants

Red pigweed is a kind of plant that looks red when you see it from a distance. Its stem has purple or green linear patterns on it. The leaves show different colors including green with a bit gray, dark purple or light red. Aboriginal people have planted red pigweeds from very early days. They grind the seeds to make snacks. The Siraya people also add the powder of the seeds into pang and mai. (Pang and mai are made by cereal powder and water) The seeds are materials for making wine, too. Both its stem and leaves are used as fodders. If there’s a famine, people will take the leaves as provisional vegetables.

Fata'an (the name of a kind of beans in Pangcah language/樹豆) are perennial shrubs. Also called hoan-a-tau(番仔豆) or bi-tau(米 豆) in Holo Taiwanese. The shrubs are usually planted around the aboriginal residences especially in Pangcah tribes. The Siraya people add the ground bean to making pang and mai. They also cook porridge with it. Bataan are commonly used as herbs when cooking.


It says mangos and guavas are the most favorite fruits for the pen-po aboriginal people. The aforesaid guavas are not the breeded guavas sold in today’s markets. The guavas are called lai-a-pat (梨仔拔) or thou-pat-a (土拔仔) in Holo Taiwanese, the original guavas grow on this island.

The way to cook

They roast the meat and fish. However they preserve meat and fish with salt or eat the meat raw with salt usually. Also it says in some old books that they like to put the meat and fish away until a bit of rotten and eat with salt and ginger.

Salt and gingers are the most important seasonings in peN-pou aboriginal communities. When they eat raw meat, they mix it with salt and ginger.

Wines and betel nuts

Wines are not just drinks but also play very important roles in hunting, religions and other important rituals.

Betel nuts are eaten in common days but also offered in worshiping rituals. If you visit a house, the host will treat you betel nuts to welcome you.