Cooking From the Heart – Locals Praise Homemade Desserts by Taiwan Youth Servicemen
Besides adapting to a different culture, one of the challenges for the draftees of the 16th group of Taiwan Youth Overseas Service, dispatched in October last year, was learning how to cook. To alleviate their homesickness, they would cook dishes from their hometowns and share their results with each other on social media networks. In particular, two servicemen in El Salvador, Huang Chao-Ming and Huang Kai-Yu, became well-known for the desserts they made on weekends, which were so outstanding that even the local people loved the flavor and asked them for the recipes.The two young men didn’t let the lack of ingredients and appliances limit them, and managed to create traditional eats in celebration of Taiwanese festivals by using local equivalents. For example, in place of Taiwanese sticky rice flour, they substituted with local rice flour mixed with cornstarch to make tangyuan, the glutinous rice balls that are eaten on Dongzhi, the winter solstice festival in Taiwan. And for New Year’s Eve, they made a matcha tiramisu cake with a pattern of Taiwan stenciled on it to express their thoughts to their families and friends. It can be seen that the conscripts of Taiwan Youth Overseas Service not only use their expertise to assist various technical cooperation projects in other countries, but also promote exchange and dialogue with the local people through their culinary talents and handmade desserts. To serviceman Huang Chao-Ming, this is an invaluable experience that he would otherwise not have in Taiwan, and a great opportunity to push his creativity and come up with even more desserts to share with the local people in the future.