You say Taiwanese spring roll, I say exotic burrito

various fillings including shredded cabbage, lima beans, shrimp, bean curd in metal bowls at a street food stall in Taiwan
Lima beans, shredded cabbage, bean curd, shrimp, sugar: some of the fillings available in these Taiwanese wraps, a delicious street food.

As a general rule, the Taiwanese people are a ‘live to eat’ bunch.

Recently, I was chatting about dating and societal norms with a divorced lady here in Taiwan. We aren’t in the same age demographic, but I was curious – now that she’s solo dolo, is she at all interested in mingling with available suitors?

“No. I have two priorities: The children I teach, and eating.”

I have barely scratched the surface of eating in Taiwan, and I doubt I will get much further than that in five weeks. It’s a fragrant and delicious mishmash of street food, market vendors and a complete spectrum of restaurants, from the hovel to the high brow. So far, my game plan has been to amble around and not-so-subtly eye what people are gorging themselves on. Then I apologetically mime my way to my meal. For dessert I sometimes ask if I can be that person and take photos of the staff doing their thing in the kitchen.

Additionally, I’m in possession of a food list written in English and Mandarin. At this point I am most intrigued by “longevity peaches.”

a long written list of popular Taiwanese food, in English and Traditional Mandarin characters
A list of Taiwanese food that was thoughtfully prepared for me soon after I arrived. I’m working my way towards horse hooves, I guess.

There’s lots of things on offer here that might appear strange to someone used to a North American diet. But let me just say I thought there was something uniquely eccentric about the wrap I ate for lunch recently in Tainan. I’ve been told it is referred to as a Taiwanese spring roll. Debatable. I’m of the opinion that it moreso belongs to the burrito family, considering size (hand-held), dippability (lacking), and the nature of the fillings (diverse, chaotic). Burrito building is more like the wild west of wrap construction. Spring rolls – you have to at least look like you have a plan.

Semantics, really. It was weird, it was delicious, and it was 35NT.

a woman with a hygienic face mask fries a Taiwanese spring roll at her stall
A woman preparing Taiwanese spring rolls. I didn’t enjoy them as much as Mexican burritos but maybe I just had the wrong expectations

I got all possible fillings. They were, in no particular order (because I love a tasty list):

Dried Bean Curd

Lima Beans

Shredded Cabbage

Fried Egg, cut into matchstick strips

Shrimp

Pork, of some sort

Parsley

Garlic Paste, and

A mixture of white sugar and peanuts (?)

A Taiwanese spring roll on a plate, filled with bean curd and cabbage and peanuts and sugar
Enjoying my weird spring roll

 

 

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