Myanmar through Food
In June 2018, first year undergraduate students
from National Chengchi University in Taiwan, the very first cohort of the newly founded Southeast Asian Languages and Cultures Program there, engaged in a student-led discovery project during their 6-day intensive course on Myanmar. Using the methodology being developed under the Humanities Across Border research and curricula project, they selected different food items as entry points or lens to learn and document humanistic stories about Myanmar. Together with
Professor Tharaphi Than from Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University, the students visited Huaxin Street also known as Myanmar Street in Taipei City.
This is the story by these students.
Human stories through food
During their one-day fieldwork with Huaxin shopkeepers, students learned through food
1) connections between Taiwan and Myanmar as well as Mainland China and Hong Kong
2) linguistic and cultural exchanges symbolized in food
3) emotions, feelings and identities expressed in food
4) gendering of food
At the end of the one-day work, a wonderful variety of topics led by their choice of approach/lens, i.e. food, emerged. Both the instructor and students were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected outcomes of this innovative research method. And students are encouraged to learn more about the people's history of Myanmar and Myanmar Overseas Chinese through food.
魚湯麵Mohinga မုန့္ဟင္းခါးEveryday food for Overseas Chinese from Myanmar living in Taiwan. It's the first dish that came to the shopkeeper's mind when she thought about opening the shop.
曾銀香Daw Hmwe Hmwe新月亮泰緬小吃
This restaurant is her second lifeline in Taiwan and a symbol of her
She seems more comfortable to dress in Burmese, live like a Burmese, cook Burmese food and speak in Burmese.
ပူရီPuriAn Indian food cooked by a Myanmar Overseas Chinese in Taiwan
Daw Hmwe Hmwe learned how to make Puri from her Hindu neighbor while she was in Myanmar. Her shop is the only one selling Puri on Huaxin street.
緬甸糕點Myanmar Snacks ဘိန္းမုန့္
Poppy seed cake, banana cake
金福小吃店Mian dian hua qiao from Hong Kong went to Myanmar to learn how to make Myanmar snacks. After that, he came to Taiwan to open a store.
鄒寶珍緬甸奶茶館 Myanmar tea-shopSecond gerenation hoa qiao
Selling milk tea allows her to learn more about her parents' culture heritage.
緬甸奶茶Myanmar milk tea緬甸人的生活必需品
Drinking tea in a tea shop is not what Myanmar women usually do. In a Taiwanese society, it is the opposite. More women than men tend to drink tea at a shop and socialize with friends.
龔素蓮Noble Restaurant 諾貝爾小吃Myanmar dishes
The shopkeeper who was born in Taiwan sells Burmese food and she enjoys reading Buddhist stories.
တို ့ဖူးသုပ္Tofu salad
A term borrowed from Hokkien dialect from Southern China. This Myanmar tofu looks and tastes very different from tofu in Taiwan.
With special thanks to Daw Hmwe Hmwe and all the shopkeepers from Huaxin Street for their guidance and generosity. We also thanked Sayama Lily Than Tin for her advice and Lin Yi-Hua for the support throughout the program.