Thursday, June 13, 2013

美味 (yummy!)

So this week has been pretty normal, just have been in the lab for most of the days. So I thought I should make a post all about the delicious food I've been trying!!! And to give you guys a break from reading paragraphs and paragraphs of what I've been up too; here are some pictures instead! I haven't been taking pictures of everything I've tried, but here are just some of the meals I remembered to get a snapshot! Sorry in advance that I don't know a lot of the names, sometimes I just explore and try; also, mainly because my Chinese isn't that good yet. :)

This is not strictly Taiwanese food, its actually Japanese.. I've learned that here in Taiwan there are a lot of Thai and Japanese influences (especially in the food!). I forgot what exactly it is called, but it is a "cold" dish. Everything is chilled, even the fish, noodles, and veggies. Oh, and the orange stuff on the right hand side?.. it's fish and shrimp eggs. yepp! It was actually really good!

Yes, it's pretty much a waffle, but these are really popular here! Of course they have to be a little different from what we think of a waffle, so they come in some unique flavors! This one is green tea with red bean. I think my other favorite is the vanilla and mochi flavor. There is one really popular stall on campus, that always has a huge line, but there are also a couple I see in the night market on my way home. 

These are called "wagon wheels." They are pretty much two pieces of waffle-like batter sandwiching together a cool filling. The most common flavors are vanilla custard, red bean paste, and a grated turnip salad, (the one pictured above is red bean!).  Four for a dollar, in a brown paper bag. It's fun to watch the assembly line and it's amazing how the vendor can keep track of which flavor goes to each customer.

Also well-known is pearl milk tea (milk bubble tea, or also called boba) called "zhen zhu" in Chinese. Bubble tea was actually created in Taiwan! The most common type of bubble tea that I've found consists of a mixture of hot Taiwanese black tea, small tapioca pearls (粉圓), condensed milk, and syrup (糖漿) or honey. This traditional type is not anything near the American version, which is more like a slushy (i like this one better!). Many serve it using a machine to seal the top of the cup with plastic cellophane. This allows the tea to be shaken (so the hot tea and pearls can get ice cold) in the serving cup and makes it spill-free until you are ready to drink it. The cellophane can be pierced with an oversized straw large enough to allow the pearls to pass through. SOOOO good on a hot day, which is pretty much everyday here.

Noodles are everywhere in Taiwan. This time I tired flat noodles (which were kind of hard to grasp with my chopsticks!) in a soy sauce base, and some cabbage, peppers, and of course some beef. It was salty, but with some needed spice.

This is sugarcane juice, which is extracted from a pressed sugarcane. It is so sweet tasting! When you order one, you can see the shop owner using a manual pressing machine to flatten the sugar cane root in order to get that sugary goodness! They usually pop a few lemons or lime into the drink to counter balance the overpowering sweetness.

This dish is flavored tofu and something called an iron egg (鐵蛋) or "tiědàn". Iron eggs are quail eggs marinated in soy sauce until black and chewy. The eggs are repeatedly braised in soy sauce and spices over the course of several days. So the salty egg is so savory, and next to the cold tofu, it makes a perfect little side dish!

This is another street market food I tried when we were in the mountains! Don't know the exact name of it, but I do know they are squid, which were fried and seasoned! They come shish kabob-ed, so you see many people just walking around holding them.
YUM! One of my favorite dishes. It is steamed dumplings, noodles, some Chinese cabbage, and some minced pork on top. It comes hot out of the kitchen. It's like chinese comfort food for sure; very savory, but with a little kick!

Here is the "soupy" version of the above dish!

This one I actually know the Chinese name! Its called Gua bao (割包) It's a hamburger, Taiwan-style.
It has steamed bun sandwiches on the outside, and some filling of braised pork belly, pickled Chinese cabbage and powdered peanuts. The filling is chopped up into small pieces and mixed together so there's a bit of everything in every bite. It is so good, I go to this one stall so much, they know my order when I get up to the side haha. It is salty, sour and sweet all at the same time; I'll be trying to make this when I come back!

Also, I thought I would teach you guys some Taiwanese eating manners I've learned from observing, and also taught:
  • Don't start eating as soon as the food gets on the table.  The host usually tells people when to start eating.
  • Eat as much as you can to show you're enjoying the food, even if you are full, try and eat everything, it is polite.
  • You should try everything that is offered to you.
  • Don't take the last pieces from a serving tray. A big no-no, another respect thing
  • You can drink from your bowl.
  • At restaurants. Be ready to pay for the whole thing, or to have them pay for you, there isn't really "splitting the bill"
  • This one I learned quickly! You don't plant your chopsticks in your rice so that they stand up. Many people think it looks like incense stuck in ash, so when you are not using them, or have to drink, or talk, you can leave them flat on the table. When you're finished eating, you are suppose to place them flat on top of your bowl!
  • And finally, there is no tipping at restaurants! I tried leaving some change my first week here, and my friends took my money off of the table to hand back to me once we were out of the restaurant.

  • I'll probably write another "all food" post sometime, after I try some more deliciousness! But I hope I didn't make you all hungry after reading this, but I'll leave you with this: 食氣! Chia̍h khì, or "Eat Up!"

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