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.”
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.
I got all possible fillings. They were, in no particular order (because I love a tasty list):
Dried Bean Curd
Fried Egg, cut into matchstick strips
Pork, of some sort
Garlic Paste, and
A mixture of white sugar and peanuts (?)