I used to wonder what all the fuss was about when folks were raving about the street food of Taiwan – until I found myself going to their much lauded night markets on my recent trip there.
Contrary to popular belief that the Chinese will eat almost anything that moves, I found myself cringing at the thought of eating some of the local fare.
Yes, I’m ‘chicken’ about chomping on braised duck heads, caked blood and innards..Perhaps I lack the sophistication when it comes to such cuisine but I’m happy to just imagine how it’d taste.
My friend, Mary and I ventured into a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ dessert shop that also sold porridge and braised meats. As we sat near a door which was situated inside this eaterie, my nostrils were immediately assaulted with a thick and rather putrid scent.
I coaxed her to sit away from what I had perceived to be an entrance to the toilet, but in actual fact was a store room-cum office. Sensing my discomfort, she told me that I had just gotten acquainted with Taiwan’s much beloved- stinky tofu!
During my entire trip, I wrestled with the idea of trying it but had decided not to…now I write with a tinge of regret that I didn’t muster enough courage to do so.
Though I went to many places including the usual tourist traps like Shilin Night Market to sample local delicacies, I thoroughly enjoyed eating the vegetarian food most. Edamame beans simmered to perfection, stir-fried bitter gourd, pickled lotus root, 5-grain rice and winter melon soup…yum! The dragon beard vegetable is an absolute must-eat!
There are so many reasons to love Taiwan. They have such a unique culture that marries Chinese, Indigenous and Japanese culture all together – food, book stores, cafes, tea houses, stationery, apparel – a real sensory treat for all who deeply love and follow the Zakka movement!