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27. Taiwanese food: Pros and Cons

 

Food is any nutritionally rich substance ingested by an organism and assimilated by its cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life and stimulate growth. However regarding Taiwanese food all what we think of is eating and enjoying. In Taiwan eating is not just a regular activity, it is actually considered as a hobby. When travelling in Taiwan one has to stop here and there for some sort of special Taiwanese cuisine. Nonetheless regardless if you eat Taiwanese food as a hobby or a daily necessity, Taiwanese food also has several advantages and disadvantages.

 

The origins of Taiwanese cuisine can be traced back to its aboriginal tribes and through the many immigrants who came to the shores of Taiwan including: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Portugal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Westerners. Taiwan is home for its great ethnic diversity of cuisines. It is said that the combination of food groups ( such as Hakka foods, vegetarian foods, the northern style borrowed from mainland China, Holo, Hunan, Jiangzhe, Cantonese, and Sichuan) contributes to the authenticity of some of the most amazing and mouth-watering cuisines in the world. Over time, Taiwan has developed its own unique culinary culture making the island favored by many foreigners especially for its cuisine’s variety. Due to the diversity of foods, some Taiwanese may not know the original savors of all the food eaten in their daily diets, much less the foreigners; although the one notion that runs through every local person here is that ‘eating is as important as sleeping’. So how could Taiwanese ever get hungry provided that they always eat on time and snack in between every main meal?

 

Taiwan is a country nestled in the heart of Asia, its captivating scenery give both travelers and residence food for their minds. However this island nation is known for its realistic cuisines rather than the cuisines which are fed to the soul. After you have engulfed yourself in the culture you will discover that this island have many delicious cuisines to offer. 

 

A countries cuisine is like a presentation letter, it’s a way of learning about a country its history and its people. Taiwanese cuisine has acquired a great diversity of flavors and dishes mainly due to its ethnical diversity and its geographical location. This wide variety of dishes makes Taiwanese cousin so attractive and delicious for almost all foreigners, however not all off the dishes are of my complete satisfaction. After almost two year of living in Taiwan I have had a very enriching experience tasting different local dishes. I still remember the first time I try Taiwanese food, it was not what I expected, nevertheless it was good. I thought the food here was going to taste just like the Taiwanese food that they normally serve at the different Asian restaurants back home. However for my surprise, it was way different (how it is cooked and served the texture and the flavor).

 Well, 2011 marks the end of my two years education journey in Taiwan and it would be a great mistake if I can leave this beautiful island country without writing an article about the pros and cons of Taiwan food.

 

Taiwanese food has a large variety of tastes and shapes, of course share also common characteristics that let us differentiate it from the food of other Asia countries. Talk about the pro and cons of Taiwanese food is not an easy task; and still, after two years of living in Taiwan I don’t think I could accurately identify its negative aspects, and maybe I’m enjoying the positive parts of this cuisine without even realizing. In order to get tools to start talking about such a topic -more suitable for a specialist in cuisine, than an student of agriculture- a minimum task we need to complete, which is go to a night market. I’m not a every-weekend night market customer -as most Taiwanese and some of Asia friends are here in the school- and for sure I haven’t tasted all the variety of food being offer in those places; however I can combine my experience in night markets and my daily life to enlist some point that could finally allow me to make a conclusion. To start, I consider is better from the negative side, and by the end of this article, those obvious positive aspect will show to the reader the  appropriate balance that characterize Taiwanese cuisine.

 The Taiwanese food is influenced by a rich mix of mainland Chinese, Hakka, Japanese and native Taiwanese cuisines, making it as varied as it is plentiful. Here are foods that I really impress and like. Danzi noodles - Also known as "slack season noodles," this dish is a shrimp-based soup consisting of noodles topped with stir-fried minced pork and a single shrimp. Invented more than a century ago, the dish’s creator was a fisherman from Tainan city who made money selling the soup during the slack season.

 

I have been living in Taiwan already for four years, 2 years in Taipei and almost 2 in Pingtung. Taiwanese food like fried chicken, fried rice, fried pork, sausage taste good, however as the word fried implies they are fully soaked in oil and if not careful cholesterol levels and weight balance go far up. Something to point out is that the food here is very accessible, there are many night markets around and sell a variety of foods that are both cheap and good.

 

Taiwan is blessed by ubiquitous, abundant, and nutritious food. Taiwanese food comprises a huge diversity of tastes, flavors, colors, and smells. Moreover, in Pingtung, Southern Taiwan, food is genuinely affordable; offering all spectrum of food: from delicacies to lunch boxes. While the Taiwanese food has many favorable characteristics, it’s still a discussion topic among my foreigners classmates. In the following paragraphs, I shed light about the pros and cons of Taiwanese food.

 

A very strong relationship exists between biological need and culture. This is why as early as 1825 a renowned gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” Taiwanese food in its entirety is famous for its flavor and character manifesting an extremely unique combination of “taste” and “texture”. This is evident in its ingredients, methods of preparation, and preservation techniques.