I’ve been back to Taiwan, the mother country, several times in my life now, and food always plays a huge role in every trip. If I’m not feasting on a ten-course banquet hosted by an uncle or aunt, I’m gorging myself on street eats at a night market, or soft, doughy bread from one of the bakeries that appear, oh, every fifty feet or so in Taiwan. It’s probably in our genes, but my family, on both my mom and my dad’s sides, loves to eat. And I’m not talking about a normal affinity for food. These people have a passion for food. I am no exception.
It’s hard to explain to you what true Chinese food is like–and how utterly superior it is to Americanized Chinese food in every possible way–until you’ve tried it for yourself. But take my word for it. General Tso’s and lo mien don’t hold a candle to the kind of food you can get in Taiwan. This is making me hungry.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to take pictures of everything I ate while in Taipei and Hualien, a city south of the capital. But here’s a small sampling of food-related pics I took while in Taiwan. Some of them are from markets, which are all over the place in Taiwan. Farmer’s markets–where you can find them–are all the rage here in the U.S., but they’re a staple all over Asia, and provide some of the best places to shop for fresh produce and pre-cooked foods (and other random knickknacks… like underwear… notebooks… nail clippers… umbrellas… and just about anything you can lay out on a table and sell).
A note about wonton soup: I lived in China for five months my junior year of college and looked far and wide, high and low, for a comparable bowl of wonton soup to what I was used to in Taiwan. Nope. Couldn’t find it. The wonton wrapping was always either too thick or the filling was poorly made, or both. I can confidently say the Chinese don’t know ish about how to make a good wonton soup. Win one for the Taiwanese. (Same goes for a lot of other dishes in my opinion… And P.S. we’re no longer friends if you ask, “But aren’t Chinese and Taiwanese food the same?”)
To Market, To Market