(Editor’s note: The following was written by my sister Katie, with some minor editing by yours truly. I cannot be held responsible for content or confusing statements.)
At my age, most of my friends are married hence I don’t have much chance to go to weddings. So when my friends and former colleagues Tungwei and Mei were getting married, there was no way that I would miss it.
Odd as it seems, most Taiwanese weddings take place at banquet halls. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Chinese people take food very seriously, much like a religion; therefore, restaurants are our places of worship. To avoid lengthy discussion of Taiwanese customs, we will limit the scope of this article only to what we ate on that particular Saturday afternoon at the wedding banquet of Tungwei and Mei.
Before the banquet starts, the menu listing the entrées is promptly placed at the center of each table. There are four appetizers, seven main courses, two desserts and a fruit platter.
The first entrée is “Flowers Blossoming under the Full Moon” (花好月圓). It is fried tang yuan (湯圓), or sticky rice balls, coated with lightly sweetened peanut powder, dashed with raisins. Chinese people like the round shape because it has no sharp corners or edges. It symbolizes that everything will fall into place nicely. Because it is the first dish after a long wait, the tang yuans went rather quickly as shown in this picture.
Then comes an appetizer platter with roasted piglet, drunken chicken, pork gelatin roll, five flavored squid, and mysterious appetizer #5 (I didn’t get a chance to taste it). These are cold dishes that require advanced preparation. They’re also served cold so that hungry guests can eat quickly without worrying about burning their mouths with hot food. (Ed note: So logical! I like it!)
There are two other appetizers, Scallop with Broccoli and Fried Shrimp Cakes. Give me some rice, yum yum yum. For wedding banquets, they don’t usually serve rice so that the guests can focus on eating all of the courses instead of filling up with starch.
To Be Continued…