Monday, January 5, 2009

Taiwanese Food Fest!

My good buddy and colleague Philip Fernandez called me the other day inviting me to join him to a Taiwan-style food festival. At first I thought this a little strange: 1, because we live in Chengdu where the Sichuan food is viewed as the #1 cuisine in the world. 2, The cold and humid January weather seemed a little uninviting for an outdoor food festival. It just so happens that it's finals week at my school. This means that my lessons are cut down a bit to make room for their exams. Let's go to the Taiwan Food Festival!!!

I wasn't really sure what kind of food to expect to see (due to the fact that I haven't visited Taiwan yet). So, me, Karen (fellow SCCM teacher), Josh (resident Shangri-La Hotel pianist) and Philip grabbed a taxi to Wanda Plaza. Luckily the weather wasn't too bad as it had been raining off and on the past week. We made our way to the plaza and sure enough, a huge, stinky, outdoor food carnival. I say stinky because the smell of squid, fermented tofu and smoked meat was overwhelming as we entered.

Philip was pretty excited about this day because he spent about five years living in Taiwan; he was glad to show us all of the disgusting things he could eat. And there were PLENTY of disgusting foods. Naturally, they had all the typical squid, dried fish and meats. But if you're into really gross foods, you could dine upon all types of insects including centipede, grubs, larvas, katydids etc. etc. etc... Those things I had already seen in Beijing last year, but the shocking one to me were the little fried songbirds that you eat in one bite.

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Besides the strange and the weird was a nice variety of Tawainese restaurants, Sichuan restaurants, and food companies showing their new wares. At one point a saleswoman gave me a small cup of tomato juice telling me to 'just take one' pointing at the huge wall of cans. So, I went over, took one and started to walk away. I didn't realize that I was supposed to pay about 10 rmb first. Just another example of miscommunication in China. We spent the next hour trying all kinds of interesting foods from the fragrant stinky tofu to the tasty pinepple sticky rice. There was quite the hodgepodge of people, food, culture and fun. I believe this guy pretty much sums up the my feelings that day:



There were so many fun foods that it was hard for me to choose just one for my fun food column. However, after trying this Asian delicacy at a fancy restaurant, I was surprised to find sold on a stick at the food festival. Today my Chinese Fun Food is: Sea Cucumber on a Stick! There wasn't really very much flavor, but the texture was pretty wild. It's kind of like a mix between jello and squid with some little spikes which add to the fun. YUM!



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