228 Peace Park[1], 1025 Demonstration[2], dan 823 Artillery Bombardment[3], are few examples of historical event which named after the actual date when it had happened. So 228 had happened on 28 February and the 1025 Demonstration means it had happened on 25 October. 264 was chosen as the name of our project in Bamboo Curtain residency on last August until September, which we were participated. 26 April 2010 was the trial day of one employer in Taiwan who had forced three Indonesian migrant workers to consumed pork[4] for seven months. The three Indonesian workers not consume pork as they are Moslem. For seven months long, they had to consumed pork under the threat from the employer of cutting their salary of 500NTD.

Many Indonesian migrant workers often forced to eat pork by their employer on the first time they came for work in Taiwan. Obviously, it is not apply to all employer in Taiwan. But many of them do not acknowledge that the Indonesian migrant workers who come for work are mostly Moslem and forbidden to consume pork, as one of the rules in Al-Qur’an. Following the rules in Al-Qur’an is also become a way of praying, therefore consuming pork for Moslem is considering as a sin. In order to which food is halal or not, there is a halal certification which publish by the Indonesian Council of Ulama. Not only for food, the halal certification also applied to any restaurants, to make a clear statement that they are not serving pork.

Meanwhile, there are two reasons, which can explain why the employers force their worker to consume pork. First, in Taiwan, they believe that pork gives them strength for work. For instance, when the Indonesian migrant workers do not consume pork as one of main / prominent source of protein in Taiwan, their employers felt they will not have the strength for works. The second reason is more practicality. This apply for the domestic workers, because they live in the same house with their employer. To make it easier for daily meals and to minimalize the expenses, the workers eat the same menu as the employer. So, when the employer consumed pork, the workers have to eat it too.

In relation to Bakudapan residency project in Bamboo Curtain Studio, we would like to look for the stories/narations in kitchen, especially from the Indonesian migrant workers who work in domestic area. We believe that kitchen is not only a space to cook and preparation, it is also a space which produce knowledge and conflict at the same time. In the kitchen, the knowledge of cooking not only shared by conversing between the employer and the worker. Their distinct preference of taste could be a trigger for conflict, but also it can be added their knowledge in cooking. For example, the difference of using spices in food. As for Indonesian, in one dish we could use four to seven spices, but for Taiwanese, as the workers once said, they only use garlic and bit sauces. On our first week in Taipei, we heard lots of incredible stories from our Indonesian migrant worker friends, such as the pork stories, which we already mentioned above.

Our identity as Indonesian, somehow led us to create the intimacy with our Indonesian migrant worker friends. We most likely share the same feeling, which is being away from home to “work”, and then it made the conversation warmer. There are various topics we discussed together, from conflicts inside the kitchen to the “love scandal” among the workers. Their tight work schedule and not all of them have day off, it made them to use the park near their neighborhood as a hangout place. However, for those who have a day off each week, they always gathered in Taipei Main Station hall.

Some stories that we got, urge us to rethink about how to discuss and share it with the people outside our Indonesian migrant worker friends. If we were going back to the main interest in this project, which is the issues within food and kitchen, and then it led us to made a lunch event as a start to discuss it. For few people, getting a lunch invitation it is a familiar thing, but our lunch event was not only lunch, we also put narration inside it to produce discussion. The menus that we served that day were made based on our creation of the preliminary data that we got from the daily life stories of our Indonesian migrant worker friends and its relation with kitchen.. The 264 lunch is not the final result of our project, but it was part of our method to gathered more data. This writing will be an introduction for next series of writings, which we will publish it later.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/228_Peace_Memorial_Park

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1025_rally_to_safeguard_Taiwan

[3] http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2011/08/23/2003511444

[4] http://www.antaranews.com/berita/186702/pejabat-taiwan-kecam-paksaan-makan-babi-terhadap-tki-muslim dan http://www.republika.co.id/berita/breaking-news/internasional/10/05/11/115073-tiga-tkw-dipaksa-makan-daging-babi