Videos / Documentaries

  • Soul of the Craftsman: Making a Sheet of Delicate Bean Curd Skin | General Association of the Chinese Culture.
  • Family Dinners: The Untold Story of Shacha Sauce by Lin-Yi Tseng | 2021 LunarFest GTA **Remember to turn on the English captions**
  • Hungry for Comfort is an annual exploration of culinary food stories within different cultural groups across Toronto. In 2020, the spotlight is on Toronto’s Chinese communities and their significant contribution to the city’s rich and diverse food culture. These nourishing stories will inform, inspire and connect you to Chinese culinary

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Foodways and Cooking show:

I – Japan: Trails to Oishii Tokyo, Japanology Plus

II – Canada: Confucius was a foodies S1: E8, S2: E7, S3: E6, Extras.

III – Taiwan: Taiwan’s Food Delights (17 episodes)

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I – Japanese Show:

  • Trails to Oishii Tokyo | NHK world-Japan | Delicious food from Tokyo’s markets! Learn about the amazing ingredients which are sourced from across Japan and sold at Tokyo’s fresh food markets.
    • Senbei, a traditional cracker typically made of rice or wheat. A variety of shapes and flavors can be found in all regions of Japan.
    • Abura-age, or deep-fried tofu, is an indispensable ingredient used in miso soup, udon and rice dishes.
    • Soy sauce
    • Preserved foods
  • Japanology Plus | NHK world-Japan | Fresh insights into Japan. Stories behind Japanese life and culture through the eyes of Peter Barakan, a 45-year resident and watcher of Japan.
    • Miso, a fermented soybean paste, is a bedrock of Japanese cuisine. For many Japanese, it offers a taste of home. It is made using koji mold, a fermentation starter that flourishes in Japan. 
    • Osechi. On New Year’s Day, Japanese families gather to share a special meal called Osechi. It consists of multiple colorful dishes, often served in multi-tiered boxes. The custom has diversified in recent years, but it remains deeply rooted in Japanese society. 
    • Rice crackers and other rice-based snacks have been widely consumed in Japan for hundreds of years. Each region of the country has its own twist. Some places use seafood, while others use wheat flour. 
    • Plastic food samples are astonishingly accurate replicas of real dishes. They can be found at the entrance to restaurants across Japan, helping potential customers to choose where to eat. They’re made by expert artisans, who make molds of real food. 

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II – Canadian show on Chinese food and foodways:

  • Confucius was a Foodie | National Geo People, PBS, On demand, DVD.
    • Season 1:
      • E1. Origins of the Beginnings: Christine looks for the Chinese origins of foods like ketchup, pasta, baklava, pizza, and more | Chef Christine is surprised to discover how many foods trace their origins back to China – even her beloved baklava! Following the path of phyllo and baklava,an original recipe discovered in China, Christine ends up in the kitchen of celebrated Greek food TV personality Elias Mamalakis. And no look at the influence of Chinese cuisine can be contemplated without looking at the travels of famed Italian explorer Marco Polo. In his hometown of Venice, Christine explores the influence of Chinese cuisine.
      • E2. Confucius and Food Philosophy – from Confucius to Hippocrates: Who said it first—Confucius or Hippocrates? Christine sets off to compare the thoughts of foodie philosophers. | From Acropolis, where Plato, another food philosopher, lectured, to the hill side home of 20th century Taiwanese philosopher Lin Yu Tang, Chef Christine endeavors to find out if there really is anything new since Confucius set the standard by preaching conservation and eating local and sustainable foods. Vinci, Italy, is an inspiration as Christine discovers just how into food Leonardo da Vinci was and adds him to her ever-growing list of food philosophers. And you can’t talk philosophy without visiting Christine’s native Greece. At the Academy of Ancient Greek and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Athens,worlds collide for Chef Christine as she meets Dr. Alexandros Tilikidis and he opens her eyes to the very real connection between Greek and Chinese culture and cuisine. While discussing food waste issues in Italy during Expo Milan, visiting the ‘soup kitchen’ set up by Massimo Bottura (chef/owner of the world’s best restaurant) talking food with Professor David Kaplan, author of Philosophy of Food and creator of the Philosophy of Food Project at the University of North Texas, and putting food philosophers to the test in a black box cooking competition, and jumping into the philosophical deep end with the members of the Hong Kong Philosophers Cafe, Christine finds food philosophy and philosophers a big part of the culinary world dating all the way back to Confucius.
      • E3. Celebrations, Ceremonies and the Dumpling: Christine eats her way through the Lunar calendar with traditional customs, cuisine and culture. | Chef Christine’s Chinese chef mentors launch her on another journey of discovery. She discovers how just about every festival on the Lunar Solar calendar can be celebrated with dumplings. Tika teaches her how to make the Chinese New Year pork shrimp dumpling, with a lucky coin insert into just one. In a bustling Hong Kong street market, she tries different kinds of sweet dumplings, and the flower market celebrates spring. In the Lam Chung Valley, she finds a unique wishing tree. Back in Hong Kong, Christine prepares for 15 days of New Year’s celebrations by learning about Chinese hosting traditions and table manners. At the Tang family reunion a banquet for 1000 guests is being prepared, and the feast honors the ancestors. At the Lantern Festival in Taiwan, she learns how to make Tang Yuan dumplings which traditionally appeased the god of fire. In the third month, families honor their ancestors at the Ching Ming festival, and green rice dumplings are served. In the fifth month, the Dragon Boat festival commemorates poet Qu Yuan, and the boat races are popular all over the world. In the eighth month the Moon Festival, and Christine learns how to make the traditional moon cake pastries. There is no better way to experience festivals than through their food.
      • E4. Noodles – Food of Legends: Noodles symbolize longevity in Chinese culinary culture and this episode has more noodles than you can imagine! Christine’s mentor chefs send her to a celebration of the birthday of Confucius in Taiwan to see the part played by longevity noodles. There are many kinds of Chinese noodles, all made with a flour and water dough, and they date back at least 4,000 years. Next she heads to Italy, where she learns that Italian pasta dough often includes eggs. Back in Taipei, she heads to a noodle factory where she learns that stomping helps develop the gluten in their noodle dough. In Hong Kong, she learns how lamien (pulled) noodles are made. On to Taiwan, where longevity noodles are served at a family lunch celebrating the first year of a child’s life. She also finds the knife cut noodles she’s been seeking and also noodles made from torn bread, and cat’s ear noodles. Next she visits a high end beef noodle soup business where customers determined the price of each variety. Mr. Wong spent 15 years developing the best beef noodle soup possible. And finally she visits a noodle factory where many kinds of noodles are produced for export. Noodles are a recipe for culinary magic.
      • E5. The Big Picture – Chinese food in North America: This episode is an eye-opener, as Christine walks in the footsteps of some of the first Chinese immigrants in North America, revealing stories of luxurious early Cantonese restaurants and imported Chinese chefs and ingredients. From its popularity in the Jewish communities of New York in the early 1900s to its 1950s resurfacing as something exotic and adventurous; from the mom and pop restaurants in virtually every small town on the continent to Asian fusion and ‘New Chinese’ produced by some of today’s hottest chefs, Christine finds it, eats it and attempts to break it down into bite-sized pieces for viewers.
      • E6. Cantonese – The history of Cantonese cuisine in North America: Learning the history of Chinese immigration in America, challenges Christine’s idea of Cantonese cuisine. Chef Christine Cushing learns dim sum-making in New York’s oldest parlor, has a Cantonese breakfast in California’s San Gabriel Valley and discovers that real Cantonese is a living example of the Confucian principle that food must always be fresh, seasonal and local. A principle that today’s foodies believe is modern is actually from the precepts of a 2,500 year old philosopher!
      • E7. Sichuan – The cuisine with 100 plates and 100 flavors: Christine ventures into the world of Sichuan cuisine and discovers the surprise of flavor over heat. It is said of Sichuan cuisine that 100 dishes will have 100 flavors, so why is it that when North Americans think Sichuan they think hot hot hot? As a unique style of food, Sichuan cuisine was already famous more than 800 years ago during the Southern Song Dynasty. Originally, the cuisine’s flavorings were very mild, unlike the popular dishes of today. Christine discovers flavor over heat and how the popularity of the cuisine has spread from China to Taiwan to North America.
      • E8. Sweet: Christine explores the flavor of sweet in Chinese immigrant communities across Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
    • Season 2 | With a bigger and broader look at Chinese cuisines, chef Christine Cushing travels through Asia and Europe uncovering the fascinating traditions, philosophies and history of Chinese culinary culture and its surprising influence on food culture around the world.
      • E1. The Salty Flavor: You’ll gain a new appreciation for salt— one of the five Chinese flavors — as you watch Christine harvest it from the sea in Thailand.
      • E2. Tea – Culture, Celebration & Commerce: Chef Christine starts her tea adventure in London, England with celebrated British tea expert Jane Pettigrew. She experiences the ultimate in afternoon tea and learns why Westerners think of England when they think of tea, even though it’s one of the most important Chinese exports and essential to all Chinese celebrations. Tea was first cultivated by monks in China thousands of years ago, only reaching England in the 17th century. The British introduced tea cultivation to India, breaking the Chinese monopoly; British tax on tea also kindled the American Revolution with the Boston Tea Party. Christine goes to Taiwan to visit a bakery that uses tea powder in bread, tries bubble tea in Taipei, learns about the milk tea enjoyed by British soldiers in Hong Kong, and learns about the traditional ways of tea and the many varieties at a tea house. She learns to make dumplings that were served in roadside tea houses along China’s Silk Road, finds out how labour intensive it is to pick and cure tea buds and leaves, learns about aging tea at a traditional Hong Kong tea shop, discovers the place of the tea ceremony in Chinese history and culture, and experiences new flavors at a tea pairing dinner. Tea has been pivotal in politics, culture, medicine, religion and philosophy. It may be the most distinctive Chinese product in history.
      • E3. Huaiyang – The Cuisine of Poets: Chef Cushing discovers that Huaiyang cuisine is historically connected to poets and scholars, and demands meticulous knife skills and elaborate presentations. The cuisine appears to be a personification of the teachings of Confucius. The creative presentation of skillfully combined ingredients expresses the four most important elements in the art of Chinese cooking: color, aroma, flavor and texture. All of this is incredibly enticing, so why then is Huaiyang cuisine so little enjoyed or understood in North America?
      • E4. The Origin of ‘Cuisine’: Is Chinese cuisine, with its Confucian structure, really the origin of the world’s great cuisines? Christine challenges top chefs in France, England, Italy, Greece, the US and Canada. Working with academics, chefs, food historians, and experts, Chef Cushing really sticks her neck out as she ventures into high profile kitchens, searching for connections and roots that might trace back to Confucius. Christine’s journey takes her to some of the most important culinary schools in the world like Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and Alma Culinary Center in Parma, Italy. Significant and thought-provoking, this journey leads us to a deeper appreciation of our global connection to our stories, our cultures and our traditions, and how they are connected through food. We look at our world, it’s ethnicities and its races through a foodie filter.
      • E5. The Bitter Flavor: The bitter flavor is often found in Chinese cooking, but rarely used alone. It is said to clear “heat”, strengthen the stomach, and promote salivation.
      • E6. Shandong – The Cuisine of Confucius: The oldest of the Chinese cuisines and with roots in dishes served to royalty, Shandong is known as the cuisine of Confucius. Chef Christine marvels at the cuisine and wonders what prevents Westerners from getting to know this style and why they can’t identify it as a separate and distinct Chinese cuisine? Her search culminates in a hands-on experience with her mentor chefs and an impressive guest list of professional foodies enjoying a Shandong banquet.
    • Season 3 | Nat Geo People | Chef Cushing widens her search for the elements of Chinese cuisine and culture through the taste of immigration. In Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Europe, and Canada and through the filter of six of the most significant flavors in Chinese cuisines.
      • E1. Salty: Most salt in Asia is produced through the evaporation of seawater in coastal areas. This episode sees Christine learning firsthand the very challenging ‘how to’ of harvesting sea salt in Thailand’s dramatically beautiful salt fields. Cushing visits the area’s most unusual market that is regularly disrupted by the Maeklong Railway going right through it’s center! She cooks alongside chefs preserving traditional Chinese cuisine in Bangkok and at Singapore’s oldest Chinese restaurant, Spring Court, Christine discovers Singapore Chinese cuisine and meets with culinary legend; Madam Soon.
      • E2. Sweet: Chinese cuisines use sugar very differently from Western cuisines, and Christine starts her comparison in Paris and Athens where she looks at how Westerners interpret ‘sweet’. Traditionally, for the Chinese, sugar is predominantly used to achieve balance, but the liberal use of sugars in South East Asia Chinese cuisines are a culinary surprise. ‘Sweet’ is most traditionally found in the simple and omnipresent ingredient rice, so Cushing is off to the rice paddies of Malaysia follow the process of planting and processing. A visit to the night market in Bangkok’s China town with food writer Chawadee Nualkhair reveals the Thai sweet tooth. In Singapore, she connects with world famous pastry chef Janice Wong who is turning the sweet worlds of Singapore, Macau and Japan on their ear.
      • E3. Sour: According to science humans are the only mammals that are attracted to sour. Chinese medicinal believes says that ‘sour’ can help digestion and whet the appetite. In traditional Chinese cuisines it is often used for balance but in south East Asian versions of Chinese dishes it is often quite forward even becoming part of the name of a dish particularly in traditional Peranakan Chinese cuisines. A cuisine (and a people) that Christine discovers for the first time. Christine joins Malaysian celebrity Chef Wan for a one of a kind experience, cooking in a traditional old Peranakan kitchen and making the food of Chef Wan’s heritage.
      • E4. Bitter: The taste of Chinese medicinal herbs, bitter flavor is said to clear “heat”, strengthen the stomach, and promote salivation. Bitterness in often found in Chinese cooking, but rarely used alone. Christine cooks a popular local bitter ingredient with Asian Food TV star Ili Sulaiman in Kuala Lumpur and makes a less than delicious visit to a Traditional Chinese Medicine shop, experiencing firsthand the power of bitter herbs. Christine is presented with a Chinese philosophy around bitter and learns how this philosophy applies to keeping Chinese heritage alive in Malaysia. The Chinese concept of “in bitter there is sweetness” is applied to immigration and restoration as Christine makes a memorial visit to Penang island where she meets the engaging and eccentric hotelier Christopher Ong.
      • E5. Spicy: Despite popular belief ‘spicy’ in Chinese cuisines is not always hot! In various Chinese cuisines, spices are complex and varied. Chef Christine visits the Malaysian island of Penang, a location historically important to the story of spice trade with TV celebrity Chef Wan for a fun and fact filled visit to the Tropical Spice Garden. At a picturesque mountain top plantation, they pick nutmeg and discover the unique uses of the fruit/spice particular only to this Malaysian island. But in South East Asia Chef Cushing knows that a ‘hot pepper spice’ is inevitable and she finds it at Sir Trat a trendy new Bangkok restaurant and in Singapore where she discovers that when it comes to chilli crab; it’s all about the spice!
      • E6. Xian (Umami): This traditional Chinese flavor is much discussed and debated! It is said the dreaded MSG was created to simulate this amazing taste that traditional chefs once achieved through skillful preparations. Although it’s sometimes likened to umami, chefs and culinary experts will argue that xian is totally different. Some say that it also takes on additional tastes or aftertastes in various locations. In Taiwan Chef Christine discovers that xian has a sweet aftertaste. In Hong Kong it is celebrated in the world’s most expensive bird’s nest chicken wings and in the Peranakan cuisine of Singapore with a dish made from a nut that can actually kill you (poisonous if not prepared correctly)! And at the molecular Labyrinth Restaurant, Chef Han presents Christine with a very modern take on a traditional Singapore dish where xian is central and essential.
  • Confucius was a Foodie (extras)
    • Choosing Chinese Cookware (3:11 minutes) : Spiders, steamers, and ladles…oh my! Mentor Chef Tika teaches Christine about steamers, the best utensils to use for Chinese cooking and the proper way to use these utensils.
    • Dinner at Foo’s Ho Ho (6:03 minutes): Christine learns about Chinese comfort food from a group of regulars at Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant in Vancouver.  They tell Christine that this is the food they remember from their childhoods.  They also discuss the history of the restaurant and the immigration patterns that formed Vancouver’s Chinatown.
    • Chinese food in the prairies and chatting with Linda Tzang (6:19 minutes): Christine and Linda Tzang talk about Chinese restaurants in small prairie towns being the social hub of each town, as the Chinese proprietors welcomed all ethnicities. Linda also talks about immigration policies in the 19th and 20th centuries and tells Christine the history of ginger beef, the quintessential Chinese dish in Alberta.

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III – Taiwan

  • Series “Taiwan’s Food Delights
    • Veges Good All Year Round | 2021/11/22 | After going around the solar terms of the year, we hope you now have a better understanding of how important food and the ingredients used to make them can be. Taiwan is known for its seasonal vegetable and fruit. But luck alone could not have made this happen without the innovation and determination of local farmers. Green onions, leeks, amaranths, melons, bamboo shoots, yam, kale, celery to garlic can be enjoyed in Taiwan all year round.
    • The Story of the White Ginger Lily | 2021/12/26 | Once known as the center for lumber and mining, Neiwan has gradually transformed into a tourist destination with its historic and natural beauty. With theaters and an old town that takes you back in time, to Hakka cuisine, drinking spots, it is also the home to the white ginger lily. With the lumber and mining bust, Neiwan preserved over two decades like what it is now best known for, the long-standing wild ginger flower. This episode also introduces other signature flowers throughout Taiwan.
    • The Story of Giant Bamboo Shoots | 2021/12/27 | One of the most loved ingredients in Japanese ramen was once the giant bamboo shoot from Gukeng. This episode brings you to how bamboo farmers harvest bamboo shoots from the most traditional methods using charcoal to modern mass-scale production. We also take you to meet Chef Water Frog, who made giant bamboo shoots from Gukeng become an all-time favorite of the Taiwan presidential palace. These simple ingredients earned his ticket to become former late President Lee Teng-hui’s executive chef.
    • Daylily | 2021/12/28 | What first comes to mind for daylilies to many Taiwanese is daylily pork rib soup. Not just used in cooking, daylily fields are now also a major tourist attraction. Lioushihdan and Chike Mountain are the home to Taiwan’s daylilies. Meet the families that grow daylilies in the two Hualien mountains. Every season, they face a choice between harvesting them or letting the raw buds bloom into beautiful pedals for tourists to fall in love with. They also share their stories of hardship and disaster.
    • Three Hakka Treasures | 2021/12/29 | Come learn about the three secrets to Taiwan’s infamous Hakka cuisine. From Southern Taiwan’s Meinong daikon, Central Taiwan’s Miaoli mustard leaves, to Northern Taiwan’s tangerines. We introduce to you have these three treasures are cooked raw, preserved, and even transformed into organic farming. Come hear the life-changing stories of the very farmers who plant them. The three treasures exemplify the Hakka spirit of perseverance, of turning unwanted to many into beautiful cherished things.
    • The 1st Month: Beginning of Spring | 2021/11/29 | Lichun is the first solar term of the Chinese calendar. Come learn about traditional Taiwanese cuisine throughout the lunar calendar alongside the country’s changing seasonal delicacies with ‘Taiwan’s Food Delights.’
    • The 2nd Month: Awakening of Insects & Spring Equinox | 2021/11/29 | Chinese medicine believes that the second lunar month is the time for nourishing one’s spleen and liver. Conventional wisdom believes this can be achieved by eating desserts, the shortage of which actually motivated Taiwanese to create a classic dish. Learn about all this, and other springtime treats in this delicious episode.
    • The 3rd Month: Qingming Festival and Grain Rains | 2021/11/29 | Often dubbed as the “Tombsweeping Festival”, Qingming is actually the only solar term out of 24 that is both a folk festival and a solar weather term. Learn about the inseparable bond between popiahs (fresh spring rolls) and the Qingming Festival. Apart from being one of the 24 solar terms, Grain Rains is also to many Taiwanese the real mother’s day, especially in traditional rural communities. Find out the best diet for mothers.
    • The 4th Month: Start of Summer and Full Grain | 2021/11/29 | Taiwan is home to “maqaw,” a plant first used by indigenous Taiwanese as a seasoning. Its aroma has been described as a blend of lemongrass and pepper. When added to chicken soup, the taste is out of this world. Discover this mysterious seasoning, the dishes it inspired, and some of Taiwan’s summer treats.
    • The 5th Month: Grain in Ear as Summer Arrives | 2021/11/29 | “Grain in Ear” refers to the time of the year when grains start ripening. It is also the best time to plant autumn crop seeds. Many believe that summer only comes when the seeds are well in the ground. A must for this season is watermelon! Summer Solstice was the first solar term to be created in the 24 solar term calendar. It is also the best time of the year to catch flying fish, roe, and squid. The highlight of this season is the Dragon Boat Festival.
    • The 6th Month: The Slight Heat and Great Heat | 2021/11/29 | The sixth lunar month is the hottest time of the year. To combat the heat, our ancestors created grass jelly and silver rice noodles, which became iconic Taiwanese desserts. Also, in this episode, discover how mango farmers help make a frozen dessert that has won the hearts of international visitors to Taiwan.
    • The 7th Month: Autumn Begins with End of Heat | 2021/11/29 | With the autumn breeze, magnificent golden lily flowers start appearing again in East Hualien while longan fruit fills the island. “Chushu”, the end of summer, literally translates to “the end of the heat,” saying goodbye to long hot evenings. With this solar term, Taiwanese crave the Hengshan pear and duck cuisine with the slightly cooler weather. We take you to Yilan’s fields where ducks rule. Ducks eat rice in the fields and roam free, catching and devouring insects and other creatures.
    • The 8th Month: White Dew and Autumn Equinox | 2021/11/29 | A solar term of the eighth lunar month, “White Dew” coincides with the millet harvesting season. The solar term that follows is “Autumn Equinox,” portending the end of autumn. Seize this time of year to enjoy some mooncakes and pomelos while bathing in the fragrance of Osmanthus.
    • The 9th Month: Cold Dew as Frost Descends | 2021/11/29 | When temperatures drop, farmers start planting ‘cold dew wheat’ along with other cold-resistant crops. This period is also when mitten crabs fill Taiwanese dinner tables. Originally imported from China, mitten crabs are now locally raised. This is also the best season in Taiwan to plant legumes, from potatoes to peanuts.
    • The 10th Month: Start of Winter and Slight Snow | 2021/11/29 | As autumn slowly turns into winter, most Taiwanese would have their “winter nourishment” by eating tonic foods. Some people believe that this will help them conserve or generate the strength they need for work in the coming year. Mouth-watering dishes commonly associated with this custom include ginger duck stew, sesame oil chicken, angelica duck, and mutton hot pot. Let’s deep dive into each of them in this episode of Taiwan’s Food Delights.
    • The 11th Month: Great Snow and Winter Solstice | 2021/11/29 | “Great Snow” is the start of the long cold winter in East Asia. Taiwan is blessed not only in not having snow, but it is also where mullets swim to in sheltering from the cold. This is also when chrysanthemums in Miaoli and Taitung are in full bloom. Winter Solstice traditionally signaled the arrival of severe winter with the shortest day and the longest night. From centuries back, the Taiwanese family past-time during Winter Solstice was coming together to roll and eat glutinous rice balls.
    • The 12th Month: Slight Cold and Great Cold | 2021/11/29 | The solar terms “slight cold” and “great cold” signal the end of the lunar year. During this period, the temperature is the lowest. To stay in good health, the Taiwanese traditionally eat Laba congee. It is also the time when cured meat is prepared, so at the start of the new year, people can present the meat as offerings to the gods and their ancestors.