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Taiwanese yummy snacks

My Scholarship entry - Understanding a Culture through Food

TAIWAN | Saturday, 24 March 2012 | Views [672] | Scholarship Entry

If you have never been to Taiwan, you miss out a whole lot. Talking about Taiwanese food, one simply cannot miss Taiwanese special dishes and snacks. Taiwanese people ‘invented’ pearl milk tea. The pearl milk tea ‘fever’ is still popular among Asians living in other countries. In fact, pearl milk tea is called as ‘bubble tea’ in Australia, or ‘boba’ in the States. One Australian friend asked me why we always crave for bubble tea. I simply answered: “It’s just like why you guys cannot live without coffee”

I had a chance to visit Taipei in 2009 and 2010 as a delegate for a conference named Global Initiatives Symposium Taiwan. In 2009, when it was held for the first time, the conference attracted many applicants from Europe, US and Canada. This is an excellent example of improving cross-cultural linkages between West and East.

Besides discussions and workshops for young leaders, I visited night markets with local students. The food culture in Taiwan is explicit via night markets. Young people choose night markets to hang out. Foods here are so cheap! A regular glass of bubble tea in Australia costs me five bucks and in Taipei, I can buy a large size for… 50cent.

Some popular Taiwanese snacks are stinky tofu, fried mushroom or dried squid, etc. I was shocked but then fell in love with stinky tofu. When the tofu is grilled at one of the street-vendors, it smelled like ‘SHIT’. I dared enough to try and amazingly, once I had a first bite, it seemed not smelling like shit any more. It comes with a strong and tasty flavour.

However, language barrier played positively during my trip. I can only speak Vietnamese and English so I cannot communicate in Chinese with local people at night markets. Hence, when planning a visit to Taiwan, you’d better equip yourself some useful Chinese expressions. If not, do not worry too much as somehow body language could work anyway. That’s what I did, and I had a blast!

Tags: bubble tea, food, night market, stinky tofu, taipei, travel writing scholarship 2012

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