Food traditions are often intertwined with culture in Taiwan, especially with regard to traditional dishes. This may sometimes leave the members and friends of the foreign community puzzled though.
For instance, a foreigner recently posted a photo of the mascot of Taiwan baseball team “Uni-Lions” (統一獅) on Reddit, featuring what he called a “sliced tuna head” dancing beside the field.
The photo quickly went viral among social media users who said they had no idea why the team would choose a decapitated fish head as a mascot, even though they gave it points for its originality and cuteness.
— CPBL STATS (@GOCPBL) April 24, 2020
As the photo gathered more attention, a few users did some extensive research into the reasoning behind the mascot and were surprised to discover that “Sababoy” is actually a type of milkfish and not tuna.
In response to the popular delicacy in Tainan County (台南), the milkfish (“sat-ba̍k-hî’ in Taiwanese) mascot was created in 2018 by a Tainan-based illustrator to promote tourism, according to reports.
As the Uni-Lions team had been helping with cross-promotion work with the city, the city council decided to loan “Sababoy” to the team for moral support as a gesture of goodwill, reports say.
After more information was provided in the comment section, foreigners and locals alike deemed it “peak Taiwan” and pointed out that even the milkfish was wearing a face mask to abide by COVID-19 prevention measures.
“Sababoy” has since earned the love of the foreign community with many vowing to buy some “milkfish merch” should it be available in the future.