Food is –and has always been- my favorite hobby, so writing an essay on Taiwanese Cuisine is just the right topic for me. First, let me make something clear: if you are an adventurous type of person who’s not scared of trying new things, Taiwan is the perfect place for you.
There is a wide variety of foods to discover around the island regardless of your specific location. As a foreigner, I’ve classified almost every Taiwanese dish I’ve tried as an exotic experience.
First, l will share with you a little bit about my night market adventures and lastly, I will write about typical dishes.
One of the most remarkable foods I’ve tried in Taiwan is calamari on a stick. You can find this specialty at any night market. The squid is first marinated, then grilled and lastly served on a stick. I tried it and I was so amazed to actually like it because I thought nobody could like something with its appearance. (See picture)
That same day after trying the grilled calamari, I also tried Tsua-bing. This is a very famous dessert made of ice shavings and toppings. You can choose from a variety of sweet syrups and several toppings like watermelon, strawberries, sweetened peanuts, almonds and many others. Tsua-bing is perfect for a hot day and it is also very healthy.
These two mentioned above are only a few of the many representative examples you can find at Taiwan’s famous night markets. However, I cannot ignore the famous Stinky Tofu. Its intimidating aroma has made it impossible for me to try it, but again, if you are a person who loves challenges then I encourage you to go on and try it. Anyways, you can’t leave Taiwan without knowing how it tastes like, just for the sake of curiosity.
Now moving on to typical dishes, it is time to mention my personal favourite: dumplings. Words can’t possibly express my love for this Taiwanese specialty. I could eat dumplings for lunch, dinner or even breakfast. The main reason why I could eat them everyday it’s because you can have them in many different ways. Whether fried or boiled, with soy sauce or sesame oil they taste great. Part of their awesomeness it’s also due to the fact that they can be made out of pork, leek, shrimp, curry, chicken or even kimchi.
Some of the most common ingredients in Taiwanese cuisine are rice, soy, pork and seafood. So, if you like their flavor, you should definitely consider spending some time around Taiwan because you can find them anywhere, from a night market to a local store, from a Taiwanese home to any food court at a shopping mall.
Many foreigners say that one of the disadvantages of Taiwanese food is that it is too oily and almost everything is deep-fried. I think they are quite right because we cannot ignore these two factors- they are pretty obvious- however, I think that the secret towards healthy eating is balance. Not everything is oily or fried; it is all about the choices we make.
For example, since I like to eat dumplings very often, I usually have boiled dumplings instead of fried ones. And of course I eat the fried ones too, but I leave them for special occasions. We cannot restrain ourselves from eating what we like; we just have to learn to make intelligent choices.
Lastly, I can say that in my opinion Taiwanese food has mainly brought advantages to my life. I have incorporated the consumption of soy to my diet ( soy has been proved to have a lot of advantages to human’s health), I have started drinking tea instead of caffeine-based or carbonated beverages and of course, I have amused myself with my reactions to some of the most exotic dishes from the Formosa Island.