02 April 2009

Interesting eats in Asia

(OK, so I didn't eat at the Temple, but it does help set the scene for this post. :) )

March has been a blur of hotels, planes and different continents, starting with my trek to Brazil for a wedding, then returning to Boston to do laundry and then hopping another plane to Asia. These tired bones returned late Sunday night / early Monday morning, hazy in the cabeza from the hours on a plane, time zone difference and the jam-packed week of speaking engagements throughout China Mainland and Taiwan.

I have to say though, there were some very, very interesting eats while in China - go figure. From experiencing Chinese breakfast in Qingdao and Beijing, to banquet style dinners served on giant lazy susans, to visiting "Snake Alley" in Taipei, I think I had a relatively comprehensive sampling of Chinese and Taiwanese food.

There's much to write about, as you can probably imagine, but for the time being, I'll just leave you with a few photos from Taiwan.

The photo below is a dessert soup-like substance made from red beans, rice and tapioca pearls. The tapioca and red bean combination made for a very rich, almost cocoa tasting flavor, though not too sweet. Red bean paste is a common staple used in desserts, this being just one variation, but also commonly used in cakes and pastries. Another delicious light dessert was something that looked like a pancake, filled with red bean paste, then topped with another layer of thin dough, encrusted with sesame seeds and served warm. Delightful. I even lugged back some of these red bean cakes (at RJ's request) to the states. Yum.

Very different from the dessert soup we had in Beijing, consisting of sticky rice balls and a syrupy substance ... extremely sweet. Food in Mainland China tends to be more noodle-heavy, slightly more oily and often sweeter, in terms of sauces and the like. The food in Taiwan consists of more rice-dishes, given their rice production, is fresher tasting with less sauce and oil, and consists often of more seafood dishes.

The night market we went to by Langshan Temple was a complete trip. We went at an off time so we didn't get to see the place bustling as it usually is, but did get to see the famous snake tanks (though no snake demonstrations). Thankfully, I'm told, no one asked me to drink snake blood or snake soup. Thanks indeed. This night market is just one of maybe 10 in Taipei city (or so I'm told).

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