Day 22: Authentic Taiwanese Food

by Theresa

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I really wrote anything for this blog.  As the saying goes, no news is good news, so at least there’s that.

My summary of today is pretty weird. It’s hard to remember everything that happened on a given day when so much time has passed, and I only have a few pictures to trigger my memory.

Since I really only ever take pictures of food, I can only conclude that all I did that was eat a lot of locally popular food. So here’s my best attempt at recreating July 16:

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I forget what these are called, but our teacher brought them to class for us to taste. She called them cookies, but they are basically green onion flavored crackers sandwiched together with a dry marshmallow cream. They were pretty good, and I think they are a rather popular Taiwanese snack.

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For lunch, I ordered shrimp fried noodles.

Side note: Remember a few weeks ago, when I was working on my research paper? My topic focused on the internationalization of Taiwanese Cuisine. Most of my research looked at government regulations and foreign customer perceptions, but in doing background research, I found that one of the most prominent characteristics of Taiwanese style food is to preserve the original flavor of the ingredients. Knowing that this is an intentional practice has helped me to appreciate Taiwanese cooking much more than before.

I don’t know whether it’s just my taste buds, the American style of food that I’m used to, or whether it also has something to do with my poor sense of smell, but I strongly prefer spicy and heavily seasoned meals. The first few weeks, while I love pretty much everything I eat, I’ve been surprised by certain meals, like Chǎomiàn (fried noodles) and Chǎofàn (fried rice), tasting so bland (I hate using that word but the flavor truly is very weak!).

This is what I thought during lunch today. The noodles clearly have a lot of sauce on them are rich with vegetables and shrimp, but my tongue was crying out for some spice!   Knowing that this is the preferred style of the local people helped me to enjoy the dish more and feel more connected to the Taiwanese culture.

However, little did I know what I would be getting myself into that night for dinner!

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Restaurant menu with English translations

One of our new friends, Andy, asked to take a group of us out to dinner at a traditional-style Taiwanese restaurant.

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He said he would order a few main dishes (like meat platters, served family style), and we could order our own dish of noodles and drinks.

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What a great idea, right?! Really though, it was such a great idea! He picked some dishes for us that none of us would be brave enough to choose on our own.

For my own meal, I pieced the only vegetarian option on the menu (picked above, not he left), which came with a surprisingly flavorful sauce and seaweed chips!

I also got to try a few types of tofu dishes, all of which I loved, and all of which scared everyone else.

Andy also picked a few dishes with the phrase “blood cake” in the name.

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Uhhhhh….

I took one bite of a tofu soaked piece—it tasted very irony and burned the back of my throat. In an attempt to encourage the rest of the group to live on the edge, Andy shoved 3 large pieces in his mouth at once, proclaiming “I love it!”.

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It was a very fun night and a meal that I will not soon forget. Many thanks to Andy for the generous hospitality and authentic food!

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