Liu Yutsu, PhD candidate, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Director Lin Zhengsheng’s 27°C – Loaf Rock (2013) is colorful biopic, the story of Taiwanese master baker Wu Baochun. The film’s Chinese title can be roughly translated as “World’s Best Pháng” – pháng is the Taiwanese (Holo) term for “bread,” a loanword similar in pronunciation to its Japanese, French, Spanish, and Italian equivalents – an expression of Wu’s desire to engage in dialogue with the world.
27°C – Loaf Rock tells the story of bread and people. To help his mother with family finances, Wu Baochun leaves his home in Pingdong County’s rural Fenglitian to to work as a baker’s apprentice in Taipei, kneading love for his mother, visions of romance, and loyalty to friends into every loaf of bread he bakes. Bread is the film’s major element; Wu’s “red-bean bread,” is an expression of lovesickness – a red beans symbolize romantic love in Chinese culture – a metaphor for his separation from Chen Xinmei, his true love. Using ingredients native to Taiwan, Wu creates “fermented rice-longan bread” and “lychee-rose bread,” the comestibles conveying the flavor of the young baker’s childhood and adolescent memories. After repeated experimentation and unflagging effort, Wu perfects his creations, capturing first prize in an international baking competition in France.
The film also looks at the rise of Taiwan’s baking industry, a turning point in Taiwanese food culture – heretofore a staple, bread is now a delicacy. In the course of this historical process, Wu Baochun is unafraid of change, challenging the future. In addition to expanding his horizons, gaining life experience, and training his taste buds, he assiduously studies every aspect of the baker’s art, learning to control yeasts, fermentation times, and baking temperatures, molding vitality into the dough, attempting to create “living” breads, rich in taste and texture, full of down-to-earth goodness and flavor.
Starting with the story of a common person in pursuit of a goal, the director integrates Wu Baochun’s passion for bread and his belief in himself into the plot, conveying the steadfast Taiwanese “can-do” spirit – as a line in the film has it: “Get on the path, just keep walking, and you’ll reach your destination.” 27°C – Loaf Rock encourages us to follow our dreams, and never stop advancing on the road to their realization.
|Related Literary Themes：||Food in Literature|