The Importance of Living":Popia Festival at The Lin Yutang House

  • 04/02/2015
  • |
  • Headline News
  • |
  • News source: Secretariat
  • |
  • Reporter: Han-Che Hsieh / Bo-Chuan Su
  • |
  • Translator: Liang-Hsuan Tsao
  • |
  • Photos: Secretariat

"Our life is not in the hands of God, but in the hands of cooks.” Lin Yutang

Every March in spring, the "Popia Festival" is staged at the Lin Yutang House in homage to the late literary master who had lived there. This cultural event, occasioned at the time when cold winter gives way to warm spring, allows men of letters to get together, have a picnic, and enjoy eating "popia," the spring rolls wrapped in thin pancakes (also known as "runbing" in Mandarin). Through traditional Chinese customs of worshiping the Spring God with the five-spice plate, people can get rid of bad luck, revive body organs, and adapt to the coming season. The "Popia Festival" has been staged nine times, and this year's festival opened on March 30, 2015.

"Popia Festival" at the Lin Yutang House was originally named "Spring Popia Festival" and designed by the late famous gourmet writer, Liang-Lu Han (韓良露). This year, to commemorate Liang-Lu Han (who passed away on March 3, 2015), the Lin Yutang House hopes to embody the idea that Han has advocated as "Spring Evening Banquet" because Lin Yutang is particularly fond of this Taiwanese popia. Also, to commemorate his death on March 26, 1976, every year in spring a series of cultural activities are held at his old residence to pick up old memories as well as to enjoy the popia that contains both seasonal greetings and culinary art of Chinese tradition culture.

The Lin Yutang House has been running by Soochow University, consigned by Taipei City Government. SCU President Wei-Ta Pan (潘維大), Chief of Social Resource Office Ming-Yi Gu (顧名儀), and Chief of General Affairs Shu-Fang Wang (王淑芳) attended the opening ceremony. This year "Popia Festival" at the Lin Yutang House had two main themes: "spring travel" and "spring food," accompanied by forums and art exhibitions. Directed by the young artist Hsun-Ting Huang (黃舜廷), several artists displayed artworks on the scene interactively with the participants. Focusing on the theme of food, all activities aimed to illustrate the variety of food by using the homophone of the 9x9 multiplication table, and to write about the significance that food brought to our life. This is to pass down Lin Yutang's enjoyment of fine food and his humor toward life. Enjoying find food should contain not only the taste, but also the sight, the hearing, and the smelling of food, and that was exactly "the importance of living."

During the event, Professor Cheng-Liang Yang (楊振良), an authoritative expert of the Kunqu Opera (崑曲)and an old friend of President Wei-Ta Pan in junior-high school, was also invited to talk about the origin and beauty of Kunqu Opera. He claimed that there were three things most fascinating in Chinese culture: Tang Dynasty poems, Chinese calligraphy, and the Kunqu opera. He emphasized that Kunqu Opera was popular among both the royalties and the ordinary citizens.

At the opening tea party, two Kunqu Opera instructors, Meng-Jen Tsai (蔡孟珍) and Xiao-Fang Huang (黃小芳), performed a passage "Playing in the Garden"(〈遊園〉) from the classic Kunqu Opera Peony Pavilion (《牡丹亭》). The tactful singing tune associated with the elegant dancing movements demonstrated the scenes in the garden. All participants were delighted with the high-standard performance that made a perfect ending for the opening tea party.

After the performance, the chefs started to roll up the "popia," which was relished with freshly brewed tea and easy-going conversation. And the yearly exuberant feast continued to pass down the tradition of leisurely elegance life of Lin Yutang.