Film Commentary On <<客家釀涼瓜>> (Hakka Stuffed Bitter Melon)

852 words - 4 pages

The video <> (Hakka Stuffed Bitter Melon) uses a traditional Hakka meal, Hakka Stuffed Bitter Melon, as an example to elaborate some of the concepts about food covered in Anthropology. The symbolism of food, inheritance of food among the community, correlation between food and identity, and the gender stereotypes in food preparation are to be included in the video and would be discussed in this commentary.

Firstly, traditional food or eating practices are related to the building of self-identities. According Tam (2002), Yum Cha (飲茶) carries the symbolism of the spirits of Hong Kong people, which are tolerant, diverse, adaptable and looking towards changesi. Drinking herbal tea (凉茶), according to Cheng (2002), is a practice symbolizing Hong Kong people's affirmations towards Chinaii. Food usually carries special meanings in a community, the Hakka Stuffed Bitter Melon included. As what is mentioned in this video, in Hakka community, the dish introduced carries a meaning of bearing hardships since the taste of bitter melon is bitter that many people do not enjoy eating. Hakka people treat having the dish as a practice to become a patient and strong people. The dish becomes a reminder for the Hakka community in their daily life, which helps building their personal identities as one of the Hakka community.

In “From Vibration Cooking: Or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl.”, the writer mentioned that she never measures or weighs during cooking, instead, she uses her own taste to decide the amount of ingrediants needediii. Similarly, in Hakka community, there is no recipe of Hakka Stuffed Bitter Melon found. Hakka women who cook learn the brief procedures of cooking from the elders in the community and adjust the details of ingrediants themselves with reference to their own experiences and habits. Some of them may change their ways of cooking due to the comments made by their husbands and children. The providing of freedom in a fixed frame leads to a diversity even in one dish.

In the past, Hakka Stuffed Bitter Melon was not specially considered as an unique dish or cuisine in Hakka community. It was only a normal dish that Hakka people had in their daily life. One of the reasons why it turned to be a representative in Hakka cuisines is that it could lead to a better promotion of Hakka culture. Smart-Grosvenor (1992) said that the cookbooks are usually published by white people (non-local people), who are not really fimiliar with the dishesiv. Similarly, the recipe of Hakka Stuffed Bitter Melon found nowadays are...

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