|A festival in San-Zi with rows of food offerings (source: here)|
(1) 紅龜粿Red tortoise cake: Seemingly ubiquitous at one point in the past is this 紅亀粿, made from sticky rice powder, essentially a flattened pocket filled with sweet red bean paste. A wooden mold with a tortoise-shape carved into it served as the template. Tortoise is of course the symbol of longevity, hence the choice of name. The cake is always in bright red, now in shocking pink because the FDA has deemed red dye No 2 toxic.
|Wooden temple used to make the tortoise cake|
(2) 麵龜Tortoise bread: These are actually bread, Taiwanese style, filled with sweetened 綠豆mung bean paste. The surface is again painted red for luck. And they come in 3 shapes, most of them oval：
The other two, the peach-shaped are for celebrating birthdays of elders in the family and the breast-shaped for a baby's completing first month of life (known as 滿月Full-moon when chicken drumsticks simmered in sesame oil and rice wine, hard-boiled eggs painted red, and fried oily sticky rice are also distributed to family members and friends - no eggs if a baby girl, full-moon cakes are sent instead):
|Three shapes of tortoise bread|
|Red eggs if a boy|
|Fried sticky rice|
|Brown sugar added fortune muffins in a aluminum steamer tray|
The festivities and customs in Tamsui, in fact, in the whole of Taiwan, have continued since the Ming-Cheng days (1661-1683). Food of course plays a crucial role. From the abundance, it is immediately clear why the ancestors of Taiwanese had decided to leave everything behind in Hokkien and migrate to Taiwan, if not to simply make a better life for their children and grandchildren.