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PRAJWALA DIXIT: What do Taiwan, Canada and Easter have in common?

HsinTing Hu-Gendron’s piping hot, flaky and savoury Cōngyóubǐng.
The Hu-Gendron family – Carissa, HsinTing, Greg and Conrad – will celebrate Chunjie and Easter with aplomb. - Contributed

Today’s Canadian families celebrate Easter with cultural twists

Meet HsinTing, Greg, Conrad and Carissa Hu-Gendron — a new age, Taiwanese-Canadian family — who will celebrate both Chunjie (Lunar New Year or Spring Festival) and Easter.

Greg and Hsin Ting grew up worlds apart, eating different foods and speaking different languages. But, today, the couple finds themselves calling Atlantic Canada their home.

Greg, a social worker by profession, worked in Taiwan teaching English. HsinTing, with university-level education in English, taught the language in a variety of school settings in Taiwan, including the one where she met her future husband.

“It is over ten years in Canada,” she says, reminiscing about her time in Canada. Prior to living in St. John’s, N.L., the couple lived in Kitchener-Waterloo and British Columbia, where they had their twin babies — Conrad and Carissa.

Chatter about Easter gets the twins — who have been busy making crafts with their mother — excited.

“The Easter bunny hides eggs and we find them ... in five minutes ... and then we eat them,” says five-and-a-half-year-old Carissa, with an innocent enthusiasm. “Finding Easter eggs is my favourite activity. (We find them) on the stairs ... in the kitchen and the Easter Bunny hides them in the basement, too!”

Any celebration is amiss without good food, and Easter is no exception. At the Hu-Gendron household, it is a mish-mash of Taiwanese and North American foods for the celebration.

“Cōngyóubǐng, noodles, a side salad ... and some milk,” says Greg, and dessert is, of course, chocolate eggs.

HsinTing explains that Taiwanese cuisine has had a plethora of cultural influence, including Taiwanese Indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Dutch. Cōngyóubǐng (Chong – Yo – Bing) is flaky, green onion pancake — much like Naan and Paratha — that was, typically, consumed by Taiwanese farmers due to its affordability. After gaining much popularity over time, today it can be purchased from both street vendors and night markets in Taiwan and in many restaurants across the world.

The trick to perfecting Cōngyóubǐng lies in using the boiling water at the right temperature, which contributes to its texture and taste, she says.

In addition to Taiwan, the popular food finds a space for itself in the Chinese culture too. Folklore suggests that Cōngyóubǐng finds its roots in Indian bread like Paratha.

Crafts, an egg hunt, some Taiwanese food and you might think they call it a day. But, no! Easter loot from doting grandparents is the cherry on the cake. And when do they open their presents?

“It (really) depends on Canada Post,” says Greg.

HsinTing Hu-Gendron’s piping hot, flaky and savoury Cōngyóubǐng. - Contributed
HsinTing Hu-Gendron’s piping hot, flaky and savoury Cōngyóubǐng. - Contributed

Cōngyóubǐng

  • Makes 10

Ingredients

  • 200g scallion (spring onion), finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 400g all-purpose flour (polohruba mouka)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 220g boiling water (must be boiling!)
  • 100g cold water

Steps

  1. Mix scallion and salt, then set aside.
  2. Place flour and salt in a bowl. Tip in all of the boiling water and stir with chopsticks (or a folk) until it's not so hot.
  3. Add cold water in the same bowl, stir well. Put some cooking oil over your hands, then hand-knead the dough until it's even and soft.
  4. Pour some cooking oil on a clean work surface and spread it out with your hands.
  5. Place the dough on the surface. Rub some more oil on the dough and fold the dough over and over. Keep adding oil on the dough when it's sticky. Keep folding until the dough is just slightly sticky.
  6. Roll the dough in a rectangle and flat shape, sprinkle all scallion on it, then roll it into long shape like Swiss rolls. Divide into ten portions and roll them into round shape.
  7. Set aside all doughs on the oily working surface for at least 20 minutes for better result.
  8. Grease the frying pan with sufficient cooking oil. Roll the dough into 16 cm diameter round

Prajwala Dixit is an Indian-Canadian engineer, journalist and writer in St. John’s, N.L., who writes a monthly regional column for the SaltWire Network. When she isn't engineering ways to save the world, she can be found running behind her toddler, writing and volunteering. Follow her and reach her at @DixitPrajwala


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