Taiwan Part Nine: You want me to eat WHAT?

Food was something we all had to come to terms with fairly quickly. You eat, or you starve. You eat, or in the case of Priscila, you get sent home. Absolutely nothing could have prepared us for what REAL chinese food looks and tastes like. Directly from our yearbook: Name the most memorable food moment in Taiwan, and explain why. (Before you make fun of language or spelling, please remember that English is not their first language! (for the majority, anyway)) “Ok, I remember when I had to eat stinky tofu, century rotten eggs, fish eyes, japonese fish dryed into sugar (yokeee, but you know Natacha like it…), snake (that’s was good!), shark skin (I realy didn’t like it), chicken feet (it was not so bad!)(no really!), shark fin (that’s was good too!), and I am sure I am forgetting so many other strange stuff…” – Mathilde, France “THE GREEN EGG WHO WAS 3 MONTH OLD!!! For those who have already eaten this famous taiwanese egg, I don’t have to explain why it’s a memorable moment. For the other, just try it! It’s delicious, everybody can tell you! Try, try, try and never forget how good this egg was!” – Jerome, Belgium “When I had to eat at school for the first time, because every taiwanese f*cker was looking at me!” – Eduardo, Paraguay (Note: They really do stare at us like zoo animals. I think they expected us to secretly attempt to feed a second head hidden under our shirts.) “When I eat Muli oups…I should not tell you but she is hen hao tche.” – Audrey, France (Note: Referring to Muriel, another student there on exchange. Hen hao tche = very delicious) “The first time I ate tofu ’cause I felt like I have to go throw up.” – Eva, Germany “Probably on my first day here, when I ate one small octopus completely and discovered that one of its eyes stuck between my teeth, damn, that was disgusting!” – Lukas, Germany “Watermelons. I looooove watermelons….hey, I’d love a photograph of someone with a watermelon on their head…hey, I wonder if we can get someone to put this watermelon shell on their head…hey, I wonder who’s drunk and impressionable…hey, *Beth*” – Nina, Australia (Note: Yes, this happened. Yes, it was awesome. No, I don’t have a copy of the picture.) “The fight with chicken feet on michael’s house!” – Priscila, Brazil “There have actually been quite a few considering my eating habits: *Eating a plateful of fried bees because I was told they would make me beautiful. *Cho-Dofu –need I say more? *Eating every imaginable animal and body part. *Having a doctor yell at me because I don’t know the Chinese for ‘I have food poisoning as nobody seems to know the principles of basic hygiene.'” – Natalie, Australia In the US, our food is disguised. Chopped up, de-skinned, de-boned, beheaded…it’s almost as if meat falls onto your plate like magical meaty manna. In Taiwan, food is very in your face. “Look at me, I am a duck. Here are my feet, and here is my beak.” “Look at me, I am a fish, here are my scales and here are my cheeks.” Oftentimes, it’s looking back at you while you are looking at it. The Good

Shabu-Shabu restaurants were absolutely everywhere. (Although, come to think of it, I believe it’s Japanese in origin.) Each person has a pot of boiling water in front of them, and a plate of thinly-sliced meat and tofu and vegetables and fishballs and noodles. These things you dump into your pot, cook as desired, and then consume with various spicy sauces. Delicious. I wish that there were a few Shabu-Shabu restaurants interspersed among the approximately one bazillion teriyaki and pho restaurants in the Redmond area alone. 0002pg3d This is one of the only times I think I ever saw Priscila attempt to eat something even remotely Taiwanese. Note that her prawn is still looking at her with sad little eyes. I could never eat my prawn–I couldn’t get past the eyes. Always looking at me. Always looking! “Pwease don’t eat me, look at this sad little tear that I am crying!” Zhen zhou nai chai, or bubble milk tea, was another favorite among exchange students. This comes in many different varieties–pudding milk tea, tea with chopped up bits of fruit in it instead of tapioca balls, tea and mangoes whipped up into some sort of delicious smoothie…it was always awesome. My favorite food memory would be when a large group of us gathered in a park, bought some bubble milk tea (with far far more bubbles than tea, in a very improper ratio) and sat in a circle and started shooting tapioca balls at one another through the giant straws. Raul dared me to try and shoot one in his mouth, from a good ten feet away. I loaded up three bubbles, took aim, and fired them with such deadly accuracy they hit him in the back of the throat, and he choked and fell over. Given one hundred chances, I could probably never pull that off again. Amazing. Dumplings, boiled, fried, juggled on the street…always good. Also good were the candied strawberries and tomatoes sold at night markets. They’d glaze them, impale them on a stick (more on usage of sticks further down), and sell ’em for the equivalent of $1 US. s640x480


Not much to say about this noodle advert but I rather like the flower that peeks up to cover his bumhole. Classy!

Longan Fruit

Dragon-Eye fruit is sold mostly around the time of the Lunar Festival, and you can get huge bunches on the cheap. They sell it here in specialty stores like Uwajimaya, but it’s not as fresh or as good.


Dragon Fruit, on the other hand, is just ok. It looks pretty fancy, but there’s not a whole lot of flavor to it. It’s quite mild. I suspect it’s named more for its appearance than for its taste.


Red bean cakes were surprisingly delicious. The beans are slightly sweetened, and made into a paste of sorts. Red beans are in EVERYTHING. Congee, cakes, popsicles, EVERYTHING. Taiwanese favor a hint of sweetness as opposed to the US’ “I DO NOT THINK WE CAN ADD ANY MORE SUGAR TO THIS WITHOUT YOUR TEETH INSTANTLY DYING, OH WHAT THE HELL, LET’S DO IT ANYWAY” method.


Dragon beard candy has a fluffy sugar outside, and a mixture of ground peanuts on the inside. This has to be eaten immediately, as the fluffy sugar will not be fluffy in a few hours. This is commonly found at night-markets as well.


Green onion pancakes aren’t really…pancakes, per se, more like onion tortillas. Especially delicious with cock sauce. Nio Lo Mien was a favorite of mine in Taiwan. It’s a spicy beef noodle soup, with super thick noodles and loaded with green onion and other veggies. Everything I’ve had in the US by the same name pales in comparison. Hongcouver has some stuff that comes close, but it’s still not exactly right. On days when my host family left me on my own, I’d go order it and bring it back to the apartment, tied up in a plastic baggie much in the same way that one would bring home a goldfish they won at the fair. On our way to a party, Beth and I were transferring aboveground at Taipei Main Station in front of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi where we were stopped by two men in Japanese kimono in front of a camera crew. They asked us to try some noodles that were in a cup, and then tell them what we thought, in Chinese. noodleadvert

The woman in the background was my cram school teacher Jennifer, the leader of Class C, whom we happened to bump into randomly there as well. Noodles were taste-tested, we exclaimed ‘hen hao tche, wo-men hun xiwan zrben ren!’ and voila! we were in a noodle commercial. Every single person in Taiwan saw this noodle commercial but us. I think I used up my 15 minutes of fame just in Taiwanese television appearances alone.



Raul eating his ‘delicious’ lunch. This is his ‘delicious’ face, wherein he attempts to portray that the food he is consuming borders on orgasmic. Beth and I always felt he looked constipated. This picture ALWAYS makes me laugh.

The Bad


Cho Tofu (literally, ‘smell-bad tofu’) is a soft tofu that has been fermented in a unique vegetable and fish brine. The blocks of tofu smell rotten and fecal, especially when fried. Tracy 伯母 took me to a cho tofu stand once, as she called the taste ‘special’. We call retarded children ‘special’. I feel this terminology is strongly interconnected; possibly because only the retarded could get past the smell in the first place. I tried, OH HOW I TRIED TO PLEASE MY HOST MOTHER AND BE A GOOD EXCHANGE STUDENT AND NOT DISHONOR THE UNITED STATES, but I could not get more than one bite down. My pain, not even Bill Clinton felt it. Instead of an ice cream man, they have a cho tofu man. He walks up and down the streets in the evening with his fryer and his stinky vat of nastiness calling out “CHO! DOFU! CHO! DOFU!” The smell alone is enough to announce his presence. Really, the yelling is like punctuation to the scent. You can smell someone cooking cho tofu from blocks away.


The century egg is a Chinese food made by preserving duck or chicken eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice straw for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing. The yolk of the egg is concentrically variegated in pale and dark green colors while the egg white is dark brown and transparent like cola. It can also be made by soaking the egg in a brine of salt and lye for a few weeks (LYE!?!), or with lead oxide (would you like some poison with your food? mmmmm). It has been discovered that, once removed from the ‘white’, the yolk bounces like a rubber ball. Albeit, grosser. 0002fq2s

Durian is just plain nasty. Some people think it smells like feces. I believe it smells more like vomit. Or death. Or death while vomiting. It’s the Janis Joplin of fruits. My third host family had durian in the house quite often…the whole place would REEK. Again, to please them, I tried some. It’s slimy. Somewhat vomitous. Bad, bad, bad. I can’t believe people risk their lives picking these things. This was the spread they laid out to us on the first day of the Taiwan Tour we took in March. That stuff along the bottom? Pig fat wrapped around bones. Just the fat. Mmmmmm. 0002kqy0


Eva, Brittany, Beth, and Clelia chow down on some pig fat. The Taiwanese love food on sticks. Snacks on sticks, meals on sticks, everything is more delicious when impaled on some wood. Yes, those are starfish on sticks. 0002xhwy

So much food on sticks! They’ve got… 0002z9g2 Grasshoppers on sticks… 00032qwr Fried silkworm pupae on sticks… 00033acq and squid on sticks! Try your favorite food on a stick tonight, I guarantee it will be much more novel and even taste better! 00039t5g Words cannot describe the lovely lunch that Sylvie had packed for her. It’s a corn…something. Something plus vomit. Horrified by her lunch, Sylvie instead decided to go have a ‘snack’. 000387a7 The Ugly 000319ap Priscila wasn’t ugly, not by far. Her attitude was, though. She wouldn’t try anything. ANYTHING. She lived at McDonalds, and even there she placed special orders because she would have nothing green on her burger. Her host family needed to make special food for her all the time, and eventually she got sent home because of it. That’s sad AND ugly. 0002t0ce Chicken feet. I could never bring myself to try them. They were not nearly disguised enough for me. Far too…footy. Like, “Hi, just nibble around my claw, please!” But Mathilde liked them, so I’m putting them in this category instead of just plain BAD. When going to get dinner with Tracy 伯母 one evening, she explained to me that many stray dogs disappear during the winter as dog-meat is supposed to prevent colds. Strangely enough, only dogs with dark fur are supposed to have this mystical property. That’s UGLY. 0002y5ck Not merely a sign advertising goat testicles for consumption, this is also an easy reference guide to check and see if the trendy asian tattoo you were planning on getting really means “Noble Spirit Dragon Warrior” or the far more common “Goat Testicle”. rooster This was in the alley outside my second host family’s apartment. UGLY. Look at that shocked expression on his face. “I can’t believe they chopped my head off!” With as often as heads are left on in the majority of Taiwanese dishes, neither can I, Brother Rooster. Neither can I.

35 Comments Taiwan Part Nine: You want me to eat WHAT?

  1. v1c1ous March 9, 2006 at 12:34 am

    I don’t know if it was Shabu-Shabu, but I ate at a Chinese restaurant that serves what my friends call “hot pot” which was exactly like what you described above. I can take you sometime if you’re interested, it’s here in Redmond.

    “[Durian is] the Janis Joplin of fruits.”

    That’s not fair to the Durian. >=(

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 12:52 am

      SWEET. I’m definitely taking you up on that.

      Also, have you ever tried or smelled Durian? I think the comparison is apt. APT.

  2. shadowstitch March 9, 2006 at 12:37 am

    …this clinches it. Never going anywhere that doesn’t have McDonalds.

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 12:53 am

      They have McDonalds there, too. Only, in addition to your burger, you can have a side of corn soup, and sweet potato french fries, if that’s your bag.

      1. shadowstitch March 9, 2006 at 4:34 am


  3. emmadilemmanema March 9, 2006 at 12:51 am


    i’m in asian class right now… it all look… dilectable?

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 12:54 am

      Re: food!!!

      All of it? 😐

  4. smacksaw March 9, 2006 at 1:46 am

    Most of that stuff (that is legal for consumption in North America) I’ve tried…I think if I were over there, they would think I was lying and didn’t want to eat it.

    Chicken feet aren’t so bad. It’s like eating the skin from a breast of chicken.

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 2:06 am

      You know, I can believe that they probably aren’t bad tasting. It’s the LOOK of them I can’t get over.

  5. foxhunt006 March 9, 2006 at 2:31 am

    Wow, this brings back memories! Thanks for these wonderful posts about your trip to Taiwan.

    I’d love to go back to China sometime. I miss Guilin’s food so much! The rice noodles were to die for. I ate a lot of things while I was over there: the cured eggs, chicken brains, fish eyes, turtle, deep-fried shrimp heads, frog… it was fun. I was never brave enough to eat chicken feet or stinky tofu, even though I had a vendor walk 5 feet from my door every morning. I was all over the street meat though- nothing was better than getting together with friends after 11pm to have a bit of a bbq.

    Mmm… hot pot and fish heads! Gotta share my pics:

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 2:48 am

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts! In my rare moments of self-doubt, I’ve wondered if people are getting sick of reading about this, like “Taiwan this, and Taiwan that, when is ‘Taiwan Part: You shut the fuck up’ gonna happen?”

      To those people I say: Not any time soon. 🙂

      Night market street meat is the best. I wish Seattle’s chinatown was bigger, so that a night market could prosper.

      1. starladear13 March 9, 2006 at 4:41 am

        Hmm, this is all too strange and foreign for my Americanized palate…I think you and Devin tried to kill my in Vancouver.

        1. admin March 9, 2006 at 4:39 pm

          Oh come on! I didn’t have you try anything in Hongcouver that I wouldn’t have eaten myself, *willingly*. If I were trying to kill you, I would’ve shoved some stuff off of my ‘bad’ list at you.

      2. starladear13 March 9, 2006 at 4:42 am

        btw, I’m totally enjoying this travelouge series Mellzah style.

        I am about to kill my internet….I can’t get my wireless to work properly!!!! Bastards!

  6. goosezilla March 9, 2006 at 6:02 am

    Me so hungy Melissa…
    So hungy…

    Thanks for posting all this stuff too. It’s so rad!

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 4:40 pm

      Glad you’re enjoying it!

  7. bethy824 March 9, 2006 at 5:09 am

    Ohhhhhh Baby… I am so hungry now.

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 6:04 pm

      I was totally hungry when I was writing about the tasty foods, and then when I got to cho tofu, my stomach clenched up.

  8. damienwolfe March 9, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    Why go to a country if you aren’t going to try to eat the food. I can understand if she hated something, but it is possible to eat something slightly okay just out of respect.

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 4:58 pm

      They never really emphasize, or possibly they can’t accurately convey what it’s like to actually BE there. Culture shock has a way of hitting you. I can’t speak for Pri exactly, but I know that the whole experience was, for me, far different than what the Rotary said it would be. Homesickness hits you like a freight train, and everyone has a way of dealing with it. In Pri’s case, she might’ve decided that not eating was her way to get out of being there anymore. :shrug: It’s all speculation on my part, though.

      1. damienwolfe March 10, 2006 at 1:13 am

        That’s certainly better than her just being difficult, I suppose.

        “When I eat Muli oups…I should not tell you but she is hen hao tche.” – Audrey, France (Note: Referring to Muriel, another student there on exchange. Hen hao tche = very delicious)

        That…is hot.

        1. admin March 10, 2006 at 7:49 pm

          I was surprised no one picked up on that before! In fits of desperation, many exchange students turned to rampant lesbianism.

          1. damienwolfe March 11, 2006 at 11:05 pm

            I picked that up the first time I read it, but I wanted to wait on it. It’s an image thing. 🙂

  9. scrapyard March 9, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    I cannot tell you how much I have been enjoying these stories.

    I used to be almost as picky as Priscila. We would go to AMERICANIZED Chinese restaurants when I was little, and I would order a ham sandwich.

    College cured me of that, and now I will try almost anything once. I would try the chicken feet. I don’t know about the stinky tofu though.

    Ironically, we were just talking about the durian last night. My friend Alsafi was talking about going to the World Market, and she quite possibly the LEAST ethnocentric person ever, and even she was going, “That shit is nasty, yo.”

    1. admin March 9, 2006 at 6:03 pm

      I’m glad you’re enjoying reading them as much as I’m enjoying telling them!

      My problem with stinky tofu AND durian is the smell moreso than the taste. In my mind, anything that smells that bad cannot possibly taste good. According to Wikipedia, not everyone can smell Durian, which might partially explain its popularity.

      I absolutely love this picture:

      No Durians
  10. kdobson March 18, 2006 at 9:31 am

    mmm… food

    I had a lot of problems at the start when I thought “Hao chi ma?” meant ‘Are you full?’ and I wasn’t full.

    I ate the chicken feet, pig feet, the fish, and durian. But I could never eat stinky tofu. It just smelled so bad I couldn’t stand to be around it. I found durian not to smell so bad, and it had a pretty good flavour. Not *nearly* as good as buddha fruit, or pineapple buddha fruit though. My friend & I decided PBF is the best fruit of all time (it’s a hybrid). Also, he reported that when you have a head cold, you can’t smell durian, but you can still taste it.

    Long live the retrospectives… I think I am majoring in chinese next year.

    1. admin March 20, 2006 at 4:38 pm

      Re: mmm… food

      I learned the phrase for “I’m full” very very quickly because I found early on that the Rotarians attempt to cram you full of food FAR beyond your stomach’s capacity.

      Of course, I was sponsored by the Chung Ho Full May Rotary Club, which is all women, so that might have something to do with the ‘stuff this student full of food’ mentality.

      How are things going for you over there? How long have you been over? I heard that after the year I went (2000-2001), they were sending students all over the country as opposed to just Taipei because of how ‘bad’ we all were; is this true?

      1. kdobson March 20, 2006 at 5:14 pm

        Re: mmm… food

        They have been sending students to other counties, yes. There is also another Rotary district in Taipei that doesn’t talk to district 5020 so there were other students there we saw like once or twice on the subway. People in Yilan and Taoyuan had fun because they are special, like the only foreigners they will see all day are themselves. But, some people didn’t like really rural central Taiwan because of too many rules. One guy the year before me got kicked out by his host family (he was breaking some rules), so Rotary got him an apartment in Taipei. Also in my year, one boy got sent home for ‘having a relationship with his teacher’ which we thought was a BS excuse until he returned to the country on his own and started living with her.

        I had the Rotary club of Taipei Formosa, also an all-women’s club, but they only wanted to see me once a month. I went in (2004-5) and I heard in this year they started getting a lot more inbounds and sending more outbounds, but I don’t know for sure that that’s the case. My district didn’t send anyone this year, but there is an outbound for 2006-7.

        rock on

        1. admin March 20, 2006 at 7:19 pm

          Re: mmm… food

          I think I had enough ‘being special’ moments in Taipei; the way Beth & I were fawned over in Lukang was a bit more than I think I could stand for a year’s time. Complete strangers always asked to have their picture taken with us, and I’ve had my hair fondled by strangers more often than I can recall. A year of that? I don’t know if I could allow my personal space bubble to be violated to that extent.

          There were plenty of rules in Taipei (the 4 D’s, etc), however, I’m sure they’re much easier to enforce in more rural areas. “You saw a 外國人 doing WHAT?!? I bet that’s OUR 外國人!”

          I’m surprised that the Rotary went so far as to get that student an apartment in Taipei–it seemed as though all of us got away with quite a bit, if it was big enough to grab the attention of the Rotary, it was enough to be sent home over. There wasn’t much there in terms of flexibility–our way or the airplane. Dealing with the Rotary was very political. If they liked you, you could get away with murder. They didn’t like one of the girls from France, and she almost got sent home (I think they just ended up changing host families) over absolutely nothing.

          I’m not sure that any of the 2000-01 students did anything NEARLY as scandalous as having a relationship with a teacher…wow.

          My Rotary club only wanted me to come to one meeting a month as well; give a speech, eat with them, etc. But the women of my Rotary club were very “come, this weekend our family takes you to _____” so they still had many, many opportunities to feed me. One of them in particular took a shine to me and consequently I was being stuffed with food CONSTANTLY.

          You went 2004-5 and you’re still there? Are you studying at NTU now? Or are you a winter-winter exchange? Did you/are you going on the Taiwan Tour?

          1. kdobson March 21, 2006 at 5:39 am

            Re: mmm… food

            Sorry if I was unclear; I am back in Canada now. I did the summer-summer exchange. We had one Brazilian guy who stayed for more than a year… he came in January to outwait the SARS thing and then stayed for I think 13-14 months. The Tour was pretty good… I had my only real shower of the year at a hotel we stayed at.

            They did try to send two other flagrant violators home, but both disappeared–one as soon as he heard the news, and the other somewhere inside airport security.

            We found it all depended on your family, school, and Rotary what you could do… if they liked you a lot, they would sponsor or help you, but it was still their original conceptions of how they would treat an exchange student that in the end limited our actions. For example, one of the students with the better Chinese (and a permissive family/school) stopped attending high school, and took language classes at Shida (NTNU). For the end of the year, he took courses and got himself a scooter driving license, then went on a 2+ week trip around the island with one of his Taiwanese friends. We called him one time partway through and he was actually forgetting English due to the immersive environment.

            There were all sorts of behaviours and all sorts of families… I don’t think more than a few people kept all the 4 Ds, but very few broke them all.

            Do you still do anything with Chinese? I am considering majoring in it, because I got to the 250-300 level equivalent in university courses in the year I was there. This year I am just studying other stuff though. Still, I figure it’s about the most useful language one could ever learn, besides English, these days. rock on

          2. admin March 21, 2006 at 11:42 pm

            Re: mmm… food

            As of now, I really don’t do anything with Chinese. Woefully, I’m losing it from lack of practice, but I hope to take some classes to get me back up to speed. It’s been almost five years since I’ve had a conversation with anyone in Chinese, and consequently my vocabulary is shot. A lot of the other exchanges went on to study Chinese at a higher level after going home, though.

  11. Natalie October 13, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I now seek out Taiwanese food and will drive 2 hours to the other side of town just for thousand year old egg on silken tofu with that mysterious black sauce, durian, niu rou mian (true Taiwanese style), oyster ‘pancake’ and well-prepared chicken feet. So good. Luckily zhenzhu naicha is really big here now and I never miss a chance to slurp some down. I’d like to try the bees again but aren’t hopeful of finding them outside of Taiwan. I think we approached the food with children’s eyes, not with adult palates (though the fattiness of a lot of the dishes was a little difficult to stomach and no doubt would still be).

    1. Mellzah October 13, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      I definitely agree, I would be a lot more open to trying things now than I was ten years ago. I’m thrilled that zhenzhu naicha is easily found in Washington, but good niu rou mian sadly isn’t–I’ve tried it at nearly every restaurant I can find it on the menu, and either the noodles are the wrong kind, or the flavor is off, or the beef is too fatty. It’s hard to endure a craving that has lasted a decade!

  12. Patrice February 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I’m in Taiwan right now, and the Rotarians haven’t changed a bit… some of them are probably a bit older. People are going to all parts of Taiwan, but I’m in Taipei. I just recently sampled the delicacy that is the pineapple buddha fruit, and I just have to say that my life will be just that much darker when I can’t have it anymore. The variety and availability of fruit here is amazing. Also, seeing this post would have really helped me in my first few months. My body was experiencing so much culture shock at the food, it was ridiculous. I was very much like Priscilla for a while, but only because I was terrified that something would make me feel worse than the plane food did. And I was paranoid that the water would kill me. 6 months in I’m much better with food. I’ll try almost anything without eyes, but I still don’t like eating skin, or too much fat. I just stick it to the side with the bones.

    As much as I miss my American mother’s cooking, I know that I’ll miss the food from here when I get back. Pretty much everything tastes amazing, and if it doesn’t there’s always something else to eat. I do reserve McDonald’s for comfort food, or if I need to eat something after 10 because everything except 7-Eleven is closed. The bubble tea is amazing, and I am determined to find a way to recreate it back home. I think that might be easier on the West Coast, just because you have a larger Asian population. The East Coast is severely lacking in that, although my tiny little farm town now has 2 Americanized Chinese food restaurants… I still have to go to the next town over for decent dumplings. And they aren’t even fried. The food around my school is a god send. Pork noodles, fried dumplings, fried chicken on fried rice, dan bing (amazing stuff, that), and Coco. And then my school cafeteria has Korean food. Let me tell you, I think I’m addicted to Kimchi. It’s the only pizza I like at the Pizza Hut here. I think Taiwan has changed a lot since you were here, but not as much as you might think. I’m glad to have this opportunity, and to read a blog from someone who can relate.

    1. Mellzah February 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      It has been about twelve years since I was there, I’m sure a lot has changed! In terms of being an exchange student, I would guess that the prevalence of things like Facebook now help to make you feel more connected to the world–when I was there during the 2000 election debacle, it was hard to find any news about who had actually won, and even internet access for things like email was kind of scarce. I definitely struggled with homesickness and culture shock for a good portion of my time there, and rolled my eyes whenever a Rotarian told me that my exchange year would be “the best year of my life” but in retrospect, while not the best year of my life (as life just keeps getting better), it was definitely a very important year in my life–it helped shape my worldview, I made some great friends (who I remain friends with to this day!) and have some awesome memories to boot.

      Bubble tea is SUPER easy to find in the pacific northwest, there are several standalone bubble tea shops within a couple of miles of my house, and even some restaurants are starting to serve it. There were about six years or so when I didn’t see bubble tea at all, and then it started popping up everywhere, so I would imagine that even on the east coast you’ll start seeing it soon. I SO miss the street fried dumplings, I have never tasted anything like those dumplings anywhere in the states or even at the night market in Vancouver BC. The taste that I’ve been really yearning for for the past twelve years is spicy beef noodle soup, I have ordered it EVERYWHERE that serves something that might be like it, and it’s never quite right. If the noodles aren’t all wrong, the flavor isn’t right or it’s not spicy or they use the wrong kind of beef…if I could figure out how to recreate it at home I’d eat it at least once a week.

      I’m so glad that you’re enjoying your time there, definitely make the most of it! Feel free to get in touch with me anytime, I love talking Taiwan. 🙂

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