Sunday, February 13, 2011

Journies of a Foodie- Prt 4- Talking Turkey

Enjoying honey candy in Kaoshing! Delish!
The food of Taiwan is something very natural and organic. I would find it completely normal to travel there and simply eat my way across the country. The food just like the people are very warm and comforting and also tell you a lot about the part of the country in which you are in. Regional cuisines are very common in Taiwan. Seafood dishes in Kenting, Turkey Rice in Chiayi, Pork balls in Hsinchu, Coffin Cake in Tainan and Suncake in Taichung: just to name a few examples. You can go to a different city and enjoy a different dish in each one. The food is part of the people and they spend a large portion of their lives producing delicous food. Some things that they make are not so healthy for you and some things are fresh, straight off the farm. Street Food is a huge part of the Taiwanese culture, particularily at CNY when a lot of the main resteraunts are closed and in order to feed yourself you must hit the streets and hunt for food among the markets. Avoid the stinky tofu though! It's foul and you can smell it from a mile away!

Street Food
The staple of Michael's Taiwan diet
Taiwanese sausage was my roomie's main love in Taiwan. He ate it every day I think. It is traditionally bbqd at the market and is sweeter than most Cantonese dried sausages because it contains more sugar. It is served on a stick and very yummy. Another yummy street food is the roasted pumpkin in Taiwan. It is glazed and served at street markets. Very tasty although someone told me the roasted pumpkin is typically more common in Southern Taiwan. 

Corn is a also major Street market food as well. It is served in many different styles: boiled, grilled, fried and raw. It is straight off the farm and into your tummy! There isn't a better way to eat then the old fashion way of producer to consumer!
Excited for ice cream in Jalishue
But the main thing of my Taiwan diet always seems to be ice cream. There ice creams are yummy and cheap and you can find a giant ice cream cone ANYWHERE. Which is awesome for an ice cream fan like me!
Sit down Food
In Chiayi our best meal was the regional treat of turkey and rice. It is served along side soup and pickled daikon. Still mad at myself for eating a peanut on this day and getting sick because I think this meal was amazing and I was too sick to properly enjoy it!
Gorgeous Turkey Rice in Chiayi with friends!
On my previous trip one of my favorite dishes was Coffin Cake. It reminded me of eating a savory french toast or a chicken pot pie. It is called coffin cake because of it's rectangular shape and because it is typically served at funerals for comfort. If someone close to me died I know I would like some coffin cake. On the same day I had coffin cake in Taichung I also had Oyster Omlettes. I was not so excited about trying this treat but the sauce on it looked divine so I dug in and was pleasantly surprised. One of the best things I ate on my first trip to Taiwan was an oyster omlette.
Coffin Cake, not as gruesome as it sounds...
Beef is not eaten as much in traditional Taiwanese cuisine due to the throw back to ancient Buddhism. If you're going to try one beef dish go for the beef noodles which are very similar to Vietnamese Pho.
Yummy Treats
I have had a lot of snack food in Taiwan. I think they have awesome snacks! One of the snacks that is traditionally identifed with Taiwan is the tapioca bubble tea. I had this is Chiayi on my last trip. Some people find the chewy texture of the tapioca gross but I don't mind it so much. Although, I prefer the red milk tea to the traditional black milk tea. I'll drink both though.
Bubble tea in Chiayi! The big straw is for the tapioca balls!
We also had traditional wheat crackers in Chiayi on our last trip. They are VERY good and kind of remind me of a trisquit with more substance to them. Apparently, they come in many flavors. I liked the veggie flavor best although none of them were bad!

Yucky Eats
Stinky Tofu! A street market staple and the national smell of Taiwan
I have eaten stinky tofu and I do not like it. I'm sorry there is nothing any of you can say to make me like it! It smells like a rotting body to me and tastes just as bad as I think one would. Stinky Tofu is fermented tofu that is then deep fried. I'm a southern girl, I like anything deep fried. Except this... You can smell a stinky tofu stand from a mile away and be very careful standing next to one as the smell will permiate your clothes. I might have to burn my shirt after this last trip! Stinky tofu is traditionally served deep fried with a hot chili sauce and pickled veggies. The brine that is used to soak the tofu is so strong most homes will keep it outside due to it's strong odor.

I'm hope if some of you are considering Taiwan for a vacation, you go! It's an amazing place to make friends and eat food. I left my heart there after my first backpacking experience there and I feel I haven't finished the country yet, either! If you have any questions about traveling there or about the food feel free to ask me as I have tons more information to give out!


  1. I'm really glad that you loved Taiwan. I lived there for about 5 months last year and I could totally relate to you, I feel that I haven't finished exploring the country yet. Most travelers often focus on Taipei but there's more to Taiwan beyond Taipei. I was delighted to read your travels around Taiwan. And I agree with you, you can smell the stinky tofu from miles away and the smell is really terrible. The tapioca bubble tea is truly my favorite. Do you also have it in Hong Kong? :-)

  2. We do have bubble tea in HK, but for some reason it tastes better in Taiwan. Could have something to do with state of mind, perhaps? I agree with you, Taipei is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Taiwan. Have you done the East coast yet?