Taiwan = Food!
October 1st is National Day in China, a celebration of the formation of the People Republic of China. The whole county has (at least) three days off of work, but I hear the custom is to not return home to be with family for this holiday – as they do on Chinese New Year – but to go on vacation. Either way, the 1.3 billion residences of China are on the move, ticket prices are high and everything is crowded. I decided to spend this holiday away from the crowds and took a nice little trip to Taiwan. (No, they do not celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic in Taiwan, they have their own national holiday on October 10th to celebrate the Republic of China.)
My dear friend May was in Taiwan for the holiday and I traveled mostly with her, but also spent time with some other Taiwanese Kid Castle co-workers and met up with several fellow MIM alum from Taiwan for dinner one night. My theme for my 6 days in Taiwan – FOOD! As my status message said on Facebook:
What did you do in Taiwan, Julia? Oh, you know… I ate, then ate some more, then we went and got some food and ate a little more. Oh, wait… then got a drink and decided we needed something to eat with it!
That was on my second day in Taiwan. May and I had gone to Danshui (淡水), a section far north in Taipei that is right on the mouth of the Danshui river, normally a touristy place and very beautiful but it was raining the entire day. (We also learned that all of the tourist attractions closed the first Monday of every month, which happened to be when we were there.)
Soaking wet and nothing to see, so we continued to eat!
However, that didn’t stop us from trying all the famous local cuisines. My third day, I was a little nausea – but I only let it keep me away from all the delicious delicacies for sale from vendors lining the streets for a couple hours.
Here are some of the lovely foods I tried in Taiwan! (With the MIMers I had the best hot pot ever at 無老養生鍋 – Elixir Healthy Pot, but didn’t get pics of the food.)
阿給 or A-Gei, tofu stuffed with rice noodles and deep fried
A-Gei served cut up and with a sweet/spicy sauce - I wasn't terribly impressed with it.
Possibly the best pork baozi I've ever had
One of Danshui's specialties. Iron Eggs - dark in color and hard (or chewy)
I was a bit hesitant to eat black eggs, but they weren't bad!
Also delicious pork wrapped in carbs - these were juicy and delicious. Here they are being made.
They are then stuck to the walls on the inside of these ovens and scraped off when done!
I’m so glad May and I got to this little shop when we did because after we bought two the man told the next customers it would be 30 minutes before the next batch was ready! Oooohh… they were juicy goodness!
Had to check out the local beer! Nothing exciting - but more flavor than Tsingdao (which doesn't say much).
Samples of many types of little cakes, flakey and crisp on the outside with a multitude of fillings.
After a wet afternoon in Danshui, we went to the Shilin （士林）night market. Another Taiwanese specialty – night markets, sometimes even multiple night markets, in every town. Where you can buy just about anything you want and where there is always tons of delicious food!
Cooking on and eating off of the counter - at the night market
Fried oysters and eggs (didn't eat this one)
A few other things I opted out of ordering - pig liver, brain, stomach and heart
I did eat this! Which is way tastier than it looks. Just a fried egg with veggies and special sauce.
Cut up and served with fresh garlic! Yummy!!
Whew… I feel fat just looking at all the pictures of foods I ate – and that was just the first DAY! While in Taipei, we were staying at May’s aunt’s house in the Yonghe district. Yonghe is famous for their soybean milk, so of course we had to start out with breakfast one day at the Yonghe Soybean Milk Magnate! Where we had a traditional Taiwanese breakfast.
Two types of soy milk, sweet and salty (the salty had some bread like stuff in it as well) and fried dumplings.
We then left Taipei, where it was still rainy and traveled to Taichung (May’s home town) where it was sunny and warm! That afternoon I didn’t feel so well, perhaps from all the new foods I had tried the day before.
My nausea kept me from trying the pork blood and rice dish May bought here, suprisingly the thought wasn't what made me sick!
By night fall I was ready to sample foods at the night market again!
Like my super tall ice cream cone!
The following day, after cycling around Houli, we decided to go western for dinner. May learned from a friend that the “good burger place” she knew of in town also brewed their own beer. So we decided to go for dinner! Turns out it is an American chain brewery restaurant – but not one we have in Portland.
Beer! At Gorden Biersch in Taichung.
BBQ sauce, bacon and cheddar cheese on a burger and garlic fries! Oh yes, Taiwan has GOOD food.
The last stop on my trip was Nantou county – the only county in Taiwan which does not boarder the sea. We stayed with my friend Osteen’s family in Caotun and visited the town of Jiji.
Meat balls in Caotun - pork and some sort of starchy substance served in pink sauce
Jiji is famous for bananas!
Banana egg rolls - not the egg rolls you are thinking of, but more waffle cone like dough cooked and rolled - these were banana flavored. (We also had delicious local banana ice cream!)
I finally tried a tea egg! (Hard boiled eggs cooked and soaked in tea)
A Taiwanese classic - beef noodles
Food – that is what I saw in Taiwan! Okay, there was a bit more than that, but I will save it for another time. All in all, with enough walking and cycling, I only gained about one kilo in my week of eating my way through Taiwan!