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Passing Down the Jiuqu Starter Culture with a Hands-on Class

2022-04-01

Jiuqu, which includes microorganisms, is use to make traditional Indigenous glutinous rice wine. To pass down and record this aspect of the Indigenous dietary culture, the TTDARES invited Chief Zhang Wan-sheng from the Amis community of Kaadaadaan in Guanshan and executive secretary Pan Bao-ying from the community’s development association to give a hands-on class on the making and use of jiuqu. Kaadaadaan is located on the western slopes of the Coastal Mountain Range. The elders there stew ten types of herbage, including Limnophila rugosa, Abrus precatorius, and Blumea balsamifera, roll the mixture with rice flour into balls, and then sprinkle on jiuqu made the previous year to produce more jiuqu. (There is uncertainty about the original source of the jiuqu.) When jiuqu is added to cooked glutinous rice that has cooled, it ferments into a dish called sweet fermented rice and glutinous rice wine, which are consumed on such major occasions as religious ceremonies, harvest festivals, and the completion of a new home. The instructors explained how to identify and use plants traditionally used in the community, gave demonstrations on the making of jiuqu and sweet fermented rice, and allowed attendees to try their hands at it. Also, with a blend of modern processing techniques and traditional wisdom, food safety concepts were promoted, helping the community integrate more into the modern lifestyle. During the class, staff from the TTDARES became better acquainted with the Kaadaadaan community’s traditional culture. They plan to do a survey of basic information on agriculture in the community and help record and pass down agricultural knowledge and the dietary culture by training community residents to preserve their precious yet continually declining culture. In this way, the community’s industry will gain in value and grow sustainably.

Figure 1. Kaadaadaan Chief Zhang Wan-sheng and community development association executive secretary Pan Bao-ying demonstrate how jiuqu is made. Figure 2. TTDARES staff members take turns pounding rice with a pestle to make rice flour. Figure 3. TTDARES staff making sweet fermented rice with jiuqu—it’s always tastier when you do it yourself!