Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson

Aboriginal Food

Here are some pictures I have been working on. Some aboriginal food pictures. This was a fun topic as I have been taking snaps of my wifes cooking and life in the village for quite some time now. Sadly most are just that, snapshots, but often the subject matter makes up for the poor technical quality. Here are some of my favorite ones along with some to give a simple introduction to aboriginal food(for a more informative article, go here):


These are some mountain rats ready for cooking in San Ming(from now on Namasia, the name was changed to its original aboriginal name recently). They have had their hair burnt off with a small blow torch, which is the usual way of preparing animals for cooking. My wife cooked these particular rats just like three cup chicken() the same as done at our restaurant. Quite tasty. Come on by and try some!


All the above were taken at Malatangia in Namasia County, Kaohsiung. They are performing several different traditional ceremonies and these pictures depict: drinking millet wine, eating and hunting; arguably aboriginals favorite things.


Boar….Pigs. Very important in Bunong culture. Celebration….. have to kill a pig, or kill a pig as a celebration. Traditionally, the most important event of the year is the Malatangia, or shooting pigs ear festival where the young hunters practice hitting a pigs ear and the young warriors come of age and hunt and kill a pig. Getting married, how many pigs did you kill? more pigs, more face.

Every Bunong man knows how to carve up a pig, and it is a social event. Neighbors come over to help and take some of the pig home. The first two pictures are my relatives carving the pigs I killed when I married my Bunong wife. I have no idea why my brother in law is biting the raw flesh. Third picture, another pig on another day. the innards are always boiled into a delicious soup upon coming out of the pig. A delicacy of course. I don’t think my brother in-laws respected me until I had killed my first boar. I mean, what kind of man hasn’t killed a boar with a hunting knife?


Alcohol. Aboriginals love alcohol. A stereotype, yes. But true. My wife makes a very tasty millet wine in the mountains which we sell at our pub. Pictured above the millet wine is served by my sister-in-law from a bamboo cup. Taiwan Story host drinking millet wine in Hud La Voos(second from left). Hud La Noom’s wine slush (middle) and some millet.


From left to right; Rat on a wok in the mountains, iced boar skin at Hud La Voos Pub, boar in a wok, mountain bird meal at Hud La Voos and fried hornet larvae at Hud La Voos.


A flying squirrel, five colored pitta, and mountain boar. All captive (and all eaten by time of writing). A Taiwan Macaque in the nan hua monkey reserve. More pigs, chickens and hunting.


Left to right: Betel nuts are a traditional and contemporary Aboriginal food. Aboriginal cousins tea plantation in Le ye township Alishan. Ai Yu drying in the sun in Da Bang, Alishan. Cabbage growing in the high mountains, Mo Tien, Taidung. Tropical Peach, Namasia, Kaohsiung. Ai Yu drying in the sun in Da Bang, Alishan.


The first and last photos were taken at a Christmas day potluck celebration in Ming Shen Village, Kaohsiung. The photos show a table filled with snared rats. Surprisingly, this table was the first to go empty. The feast was held in a basketball court and there were lots of tables filled with hunted food, notable were the raw pickled flying squirrel intestines. Ever tried that?

The two middle pictures are of a freezer full of hunted meat. The head in the second is what my wife calls a fox. I looked it up and found ?? to be its name, and in the third you can see a flying squirrel in the front. I find monkeys to be the freakiest to see. They look so human like.


Pounding and husking rice/millet. The left most photo was taken at a friends wedding in the Zhou village of Hsin Mei in Jia Yi. I think he is pounding a sweet potato. I will have to ask Eric what it was. The final three are from a competition to see who can husk the most rice in a certain time. Namasia, Kaohsiung.


My wife collecting Balang Balang(an edible leaf) in Namasia, Kaohsiung.



11 responses

  1. Pingback: David on Formosa » Links 25 February 2008

  2. Hi Lief,

    Nice to see you posting again. You seemed to have dropped off the face of the world for a while there.

    February 25, 2008 at 12:08 am

  3. edwinsetiawan

    nice photo…… I am from Indonesia but now in Taiwan
    Some part in Indonesia also eat rat…..

    May 23, 2008 at 2:37 pm

  4. Thanks Edwin, if you are ever in Tainan, swing by Hud La Noom Restaurant and I can cook you up some rat!

    May 24, 2008 at 1:12 pm

  5. nice
    mabye not the rats or pig insides

    lots lov kelly Clarkson

    November 19, 2008 at 3:59 am

  6. Mahahahahahahhahaa

    I like fish with big tails and mouths. I like dogs with big noses and hair. I like bunnys with big butts and big teeth.

    May 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm

  7. Pingback: Sacrificial Pigs, God Pigs and Festivals 神豬 « Liefintaiwan’s Weblog

  8. Matthew

    Great pictures and information. I’ve been trying to find info on what the Aborigines of Taiwan ate (and still eat) but I’ve been having trouble finding good sources. Do you know of any? It would be greatly appreciated. And also info on health issues relating to Aborigines abandoning their traditional diet (diabetes, etc…) Anyway, I don’t know if you have any info on this or know of some good sources but thought I’d just ask. Thanks and have a great day!

    September 18, 2010 at 8:21 am

  9. andreas

    I like this story. It seems related with some tribes in Indonesia. Now I still trace Indonesia ancestors. Accoriding to archaeology facts, our ancestor came from Taiwan.

    July 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    • Yes, some postulate that all Austronesian people originated in Taiwan. I’m always amazed how similar we all are in the end.

      July 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

  10. Pingback: The Seven Links Project: Seven Old Blog Posts Revisited « Liefintaiwan

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