Taiwan certainly knows how to hold a welcome party. Within the first week of arriving we already get to experience our first typhoon. Being somewhat of a common occurrence, none of the local students seem to be too worried over it. They only suggest preparing some extra food and water in case the stores don’t feel like opening. Admittedly, I may have gone overboard with my preparation. *So many instant noodles* Besides the storm, the weather here has been consistently hot, averaging around the low to mid 90’s, and very humid. Needless to say, drinking plenty of water is very important.
But what would any party be without food and drinks. Fortunately, Taiwan is a foodie heaven where everything is not only delicious, but also incredibly cheap. Both being very important for your typical college student. While I have yet to explore the famous Taiwanese night markets and experience the many famous foods that come with it (stinky tofu anyone?), I have begun to get a grasp on basic Taiwanese cuisine.
Drinks: The choice of drinks in Taiwan is overwhelming. Every fruit and vegetable imaginable has been turned into a milk drink. For example, there’s a shop near campus that specializes in banana milk and in the nearest 7-11 you can find asparagus milk hidden away in one of the corners. There are also countless soymilk, oat milk, and other nut milk drinks available everywhere. However, no one can talk about drinks in Taiwan without mentioning milk tea. With milk tea shops found on every street, this beverage is hard to miss. You can get it with or without the tapioca bubbles, cold or hot, with almost any tea of your choice, as well as any milk of your choice (although I wouldn’t recommend the asparagus milk).
Foods: Due to its diverse history, Taiwan houses many styles of food: Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese, as well as American food. For breakfast, you can find small mom and pop shops selling things like dan bing (basically a chopped up, Taiwanese version of a savory crepe), steamed bao, or to-go sandwiches and hamburgers (although every shop has their own way of determining what exactly makes a hamburger). For lunch and dinner, you can find on almost every street a place that either serves dumplings (fried or steamed) or Taiwanese beef noodles. There’s also a plethora of Japanese restaurants that are reminiscent of the Japanese colonial era, Chinese restaurants reflecting the large Chinese population on the island, as well as the many western (mostly American) food choices that come from more recent food trends.
In such a short amount of time I have discovered so much, and yet it is only the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, with the coming weeks I will go to find even more interesting foods that Taiwan has to offer!
By: Genevieve Madigan
Program: Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan
Term: Summer 2019