Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Breakfast in Taiwan

It's weird that I am so nostalgic over Taiwanese breakfasts. I just realized that maybe this is because it's pretty much the only meal I consistently had with my family. Now that I'm in Taiwan to finish the film, I find myself on the hunt for the perfect traditional Taiwanese breakfast, although since I'm alone, it won't be the lavish meals I remember with congee, fermented tofu, pickles and Taiwanese sausages from the man who sells them in the street.

Today I just might have found the go-to amazing Taiwanese breakfast hole-in-the-wall. Attracted by a little mark on the map that I received from the hostel, I made my way down Tingzhou Road (汀州路) past a bunch of motorcycle chop shops. I walked right past the place the first time, but when I doubled back, I sighted a tray of crullers and some sesame cakes outside a cluttered place with a U-shaped counter. 

Great hole-in-the-wall traditional Taiwanese breakfast.
I ordered cold soy milk and a rice roll (fan tuan, 飯卷). It might not look like much but wow, it was incredible. Soy milk in Asia is so different than those boxes of Eden Soy in America, thinner in texture, more subtle in taste. At this place, the soy milk tasted like the soy milk I remember making with my grandmother. And the fan tuan was fantastic - the cruller on the inside perfectly crisped, pieces of salted pickled vegetables providing just the right amount of briny crunch, the rice just the right stickiness to hold together without being too moist.  A bunch of high school students came in right after I did and ordered taro bread and egg in sesame bread (dan bing, 蛋餅), which I will try next time. 

Home-made and delicious.
Then I crossed the road to Shi Da, thinking I would get myself a cup of coffee. The market was in full swing - glad it's still there, since I've been hearing about official efforts to clean the area up. 

Guavas, plums and other fruit.

Shi Kia and Japanese pears.
Fruit is the other thing I am always nostalgic over since I seem to be allergic to nearly every fruit in America. I love those green guavas from Taiwan and I nearly bought a shi kia, in the Bahamas it's called a sugar apple, but the fruit vendor said that they needed a day to get ripe, so I demurred, thinking it would be disaster if I had to carry one around all day. 

After walking through the market, the straps for my camera bag were digging into my back and soaked with sweat. No coffee shops seemed to be in the area except for Starbucks, which I will avoid even if I am about to die of heatstroke. I decided to try Grandma Nitti's Kitchen,  a place I've been to before and liked. Unfortunately, their coffee is pre-sweetened and I can barely drink it. Ugh. Must. Find. Coffee. If I am to be semi-articulate for my second interview with Peng Ming Min

More about my trip to Taiwan is on the website for ALMOST HOME: TAIWAN - this is a personal little sidebar that didn't seem fitting to add to the film website.