China's ban on Taiwan's pineapples inspires creative dishes

WION Web Team
Taipei, Taiwan Published: Mar 10, 2021, 06:19 PM(IST)

Farmers sell pineapples at a stall by the road in Kaohsiung, Taiwan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Taiwan will not be beaten by China's ban on pineapple imports and will rally round its farmers to turn crisis into opportunity with new markets and more sales at home, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday, offering a defiant rebuke to Beijing

China's ban on Taiwan's pineapples citing "harmful creatures" it said could come with the fruit, has inspired creative responses from the country.

As a result of the ban, Taiwan's classic beef noodle soup has taken on a sweet and sour twist.

Hung Ching Lung, a Taipei chef, has created a pineapple beef noodle soup at his eponymous restaurant Chef Hung, in what he says is a modest attempt to support Taiwanese pineapple farmers.

Taiwan will not be beaten by China's ban on pineapple imports and will rally round its farmers to turn crisis into opportunity with new markets and more sales at home, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday, offering a defiant rebuke to Beijing.

The spiky fruit became a politically charged symbol after China banned the import of Taiwan's pineapples on March 1, citing pests.

Taiwan's infuriated government called the ban a political move to further pressure the Chinese-claimed island, a charge that China denied.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the decision was "totally rational and necessary" and that customs had a responsibility to prevent diseases carried by plants from entering the country.

"The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have deliberately misrepresented and maliciously interpreted technical issues, taking the opportunity to attack and discredit the mainland," it said, referring to Taiwan's ruling party.

Tsai, who has launched a "pineapple challenge" on her social media pages to get Taiwanese to buy more of the fruit, told reporters at the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that their strategy was paying off.

The campaign has kicked off a pineapple media frenzy, as Taiwanese politicians sought to demonstrate their support for farmers as well as Taiwanese agriculture. Politicians from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Nationalist Party flocked to farms to post pictures with pineapples, encouraging domestic consumers as well as other countries to pick up the slack left by China.

Taiwanese restauranteurs like Hung rushed to make pineapple-infused dishes. Pineapple shrimp balls, a betel nut pineapple salad and classics like fried rice with pineapple are just some of the dishes being pushed out by restaurants and hotels on the island.

Hung said he and his team spent three days testing out ways to incorporate pineapple into beef noodles. It took about 10 attempts.

''The first time we tested it when we cooked it in the soup, it was very sweet, it was inedible and tasted completely of pineapple," he said. The successful attempt was based on separating the juice from the fruit during cooking, which removed the sweetness that would otherwise overpower the beef flavour.

Since Friday when China announced the ban, orders for more than 41,000 metric tons of pineapples have come in, including 5,000 metric tons from Japan, Tsai said.

"From crisis comes turning points. In the face of each challenge Taiwan will not be defeated but will become even stronger," she said, standing in front of pineapple products from Taiwan's four main producing areas in its south.

"As long as we unite and support the hard-working farmers and support our high-quality products, the international community will stand on the same frontlines as Taiwan."

Taiwan has been heartened by support from the United States and Canada in particular for what Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has called "freedom pineapples", with the two countries' de facto ambassadors in Taipei posting pictures on social media with the fruit.

Around 90 per cent of Taiwan's pineapple exports went to China last year, though most production is consumed domestically.

China has ramped up pressure to get Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty, including regularly flying fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan or into its air defence identification zone.

 

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