Yesterday, in Taichung, I open my dinnerbox and begin to quietly eat my dinner before I run back to the tech table to review cues (only moments before the house opens). Some yummy bok choy, some rice, and then suddenly, I look at the next bite on my chopsticks to realize there is the eye of a tiny guppy-like fish head looking up at me! (kind of like those shown in this picture I took in a market)
In Taipei, we missed the night market that is known for having food stalls of snake items, such as snake soup. "Oh, good for you. Make you strong." Says Jack, our sound guy, who's relative owns one of these stands. He said to just drink the soup and not eat the meat, but you get to see his cousin cut the snakes open.....oh great!
There were certainly some fun and interesting food experiences as well and although I definitely need a break from chinese food, I still love it, especially now that I know about the traditional ways things are prepared.
After our performance in Kao-Shiung, we were all starving hungry and had a 4 hour drive to the next city and our hotel. It was voted to stop at a Taiwan McDonalds, or McCafe. Most things are the same, although they have more chicken options and less burger options than the American version and they had somehting called a Rice-Burger. This was basically a burger on a bun made out of rice patties rather than bread. I didn't try it as I was not up for risking a burger over chicken. I wouldn't even risk having a burger at a Micky D's in the US, for that matter! They were also really nice at the McDonald's and gave us all green tea iced tea to drink while we waited for our order to be completed. Jeff, finish the sentence....Quarter...... ;)Our last night in Taiwan, after the very successful Taipei performance, our hosts took us out to Hong Kong style Cantonese dinner. What a delicious meal! I had Kiwi Juice for the first time, yummy! They also had some yummy vegetarian lettuce wraps, dumplings and spring rolls, soup, etc. Lots of joking around and laughing, a little magic at the table, it was definitely a fun and good time had by all and wonderful to sample some really delicious chinese food too!
The last lunchbox that I had, there was a completely delicious green vegetable that I had to ask what it was. You know, asking what something is can be a daring question, often answered with just "eat it, its good for you!". This, however, I was told were flower buds called Jin Zhen. Some research later told me that these were young green lily buds. The girls took us to the market on our last day in Taipei and there I got some dried Jin Zhen (which are yellow or orange). You can actually find these dried lily buds in your local asian markets and I have found out that they are often put into hot & sour soup or moo shu pork (muxiu pork). I can't wait to try out the recipe Nitta gave me for lily bud soup. Yummy! While at the market, we saw many shocking food stalls with all shape and form of animal parts - pig hoofs, whole ducks and chickens, LARGE fish heads, etc. The girls had us taste sugar cane juice, which was cool and refreshing (I have actually had this in Hawaii as well, with just a touch of lime juice add -- soo good!) I also picked up this powder that is made from dried plum, sugar and salt used to dip your fruit in. So yummy!
The girls also took us for a lunch of Wa-Guei, which I don't really know how to explain. This was basically a thick pudding pressed into a bowl with a delicious sauce on top. The pudding had bits of shrimp and meat in it and was so thick a fork would stand up straight in it. Made me think a little bit of bread pudding. The Wa-Geui was served with a yummy soup reminisceint in flavor of vietnamese pho soup with the cilantro and bean sprouts. In the soup were fish meat balls which were ok, but I only had a couple.
This entire trip has certainly re-inspired me to have my dim-sum party at the Chinese New Year that I have dreamed about for a number of years. Now that I have some taiwanese friends to ask for recipes and advice and I have tasted some delicious sticky rice, chicken soup dumplings, cha siu bao, siu mai, etc I have great ideas for the party!
I think eating these things makes you strong. Strong of will for how daring and adventuresome you can be! I certainly feel stronger for having tried some of these various dishes and more willing to 'risk it', to a certain degree, in the future. It was certainly worth every moment of the adventure!