Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What is your favorite food?

This post will answer some of the questions I've gotten about Taiwan. Number one question: What is the food like?

Mostly good, if you're not too picky. Even at home I had to tell myself that meat doesn't come from animals and all food comes from a perfectly clean stainless-steel machine, and I've been telling myself that same thing here.

Most Chinese-style meals that you get from a street stand cost between 30 & 60 NT, which is $1-$2. For example there is a stand near my apartment where I get rice, veggies and a piece of meat, fish or tofu and a clear broth for $30 NT. That's cheap, though. Most places you get fried rice or noodles with meat & maybe some veggies for 50-60NT. At most restaurants you can get food for around 90-130 NT. The biggest problem is that you often don't know what you're getting, because all the menus are in characters. I've only gone to sit-down restaurants with people who can tell me what's on the menu. At food stands sometimes you can see the food and point to it.

A few weird things: stuff that shouldn't be sweet is sweet, and stuff that should be sweet isn't. By American standards of course. For instance, many meals taste sweet or have no real flavor to them. If you buy chips, they will likely be sweet unless you buy an American brand, and even then they aren't very salty. If you buy a cake from a bakery, it won't be very sweet. It's very weird.

Can you get American food in Taiwan? I'm lucky because some of my favorite snacks in the US were Doritos, Snickers & peanut M&Ms. You can buy all of those things at every convenience store for less than $1 US. So I haven't really lost weight here because my favorite snacks are so easy to get. Salt & Vinegar chips I haven't found. One 7-11 had a huge display of "International Potato Chips" so I thought maybe they would have them, but no. They had, for example, "Thanksgiving Turkey" and "Eggnog" flavored chips. Sounds pretty disgusting. Cheese is hard to find and kind of gross. That's the one thing I miss.

They do have McDonald's & KFC here. I've eaten both once. They are priced pretty similar to the US, maybe a little more. Neither really tempt me that much though. They have Chili's and TGIFridays here, too, but they are kind of expensive. I haven't been yet.

Usually when they try to make American food it winds up being pretty disgusting, so I stick to Chinese food. The pictures are from homework I was just grading- the question was "What is your favorite food? What are its ingredients?" This is what the kids who like pizza wrote. Last week we did an exercise about going to a movie theater and on the menu there was hot dogs in a bun (this was a novelty, the kids have only seen them on sticks) and nachos, which took me 5 minutes to explain and I think they still didn't get it.

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