Photo by ctsnow courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Blog readers, meet Eva. She is my Taiwanese college roommate from Stanford, one of my best friends, and kind of a sister to me. She and her family have been my cultural translators for Taipei and Taiwan (although she currently lives in Boston), and I will be referring to their help and guidance throughout my adventure.
She has also been a great language buddy with whom I’ve been practicing my burgeoning (and bumbling) Mandarin. And at the risk of turning this into a food blog, one of the most effective ways to learn Chinese vocabulary I’ve found is through discussing food!
So before I left, I asked Eva what her top 5 favorite Taiwanese foods are, that I must try when I arrived in Taiwan. Her answers provided a great lesson in Chinese language and the fascinating etymologies of meaning that lie embedded in each combination of characters. Eva’s list of Taiwanese highlights was as follows:
1. Beef noodle soup- 牛肉麵 (niu rou mian)
2. Stir fried vegetables, in particular, watercress- 炒空心菜 (chao kong xin cai)
3. Potstickers- 鍋貼 (guo tie)
4. Grilled Sausage with Basil- 烤香腸和九層塔 (kao xiang chang he/han jiu ceng ta)
5. Stinky Tofu- 臭豆腐 (chou do fu) Continue reading
My lunch at Sweet Dynasty: won ton soup and fried turnip cake, with jasmine tea
I’m finally here!! My first day in Taipei was spent eating and not getting hit by cars, not necessarily in that order.
I arrived in Taiwan safely and without too much fuss. It was 19 hours total travel time, one layover in Anchorage, Alaska, and several hours spent sleeping, thanks to a potent combination of sleep deprivation prior to the trip, a double vodka tonic served up by a bartender in New York (that tasted like rubbing alcohol), and some NyQuil (taken after the layover, NOT with the cocktail, don’t worry). I was met by a friendly woman who works for the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (Fulbright Taiwan), who made me feel very welcome and helped me check in to the hotel.
Breakfast in the room: carob covered rice cake from Sag Harbor, apple pear from the hotel, water, tea, and books.
I didn’t feel too jetlagged, so after securing some WiFi and checking in with my family via Skype, I decided to take to the Taipei streets and seek out some lunch and temporary groceries, like fruit or snacks, to keep me on the right side of hunger and foreign-country-distress. Continue reading