1 december 2012

i normally travel to this part of the world after thanksgiving and as late as chinese new year in february. one thing i noticed that was missing from being in taiwan on december 1 is the mark of world aids day. in hong kong, while it’s not a big deal, it is more noticeable, with demonstrations, public talks, and the occasional free condom (wrapped, ‘natch) being handed out. maybe it is more marked in taipei than in the outlying, more working class cities?

the rain again was relentless, but that doesn’t seem to stop the residents of chung li from going out and about and doing their business. the drivers are as crazy as ever, along side the ubiquitous scooter. yesterday’s foodie adventure started around 8 am when we walked around the corner to what seemed like an underground chungking mansion clone, but only with closed shops and food vendors that would make my local county health inspector scream in horror. you can select your animal of choice, mostly fowl. and have it dispatched on the spot, and eat it there, or take it home. i saw freshly slaughtered pork brought in for the shop keeper to finish butchering it. fu took me around the corner to a little stall where a mom and pop operation have been there for the 30 something years of fu’s life, and probably even longer. he went up behind the mom and politely ordered some noodles and a fried egg with scallion for us to share. there were maybe about 4 little plastic tables with mostly older guys in their jammies still, reading the paper and slurping soup. one guy pulled up to our table, with cigarette in hand, and quietly polished off his soup. he was really good about making sure that we didn’t inhale his vice.

after finishing off those delicious noodles, we walked around chung li because the rain gave us a bit of a break. fu knows of this food cart that serves soft tofu with 3 kinds of beans and a ginger syrup. it was absolute heaven. people on the scooters pulled up, ordered a cup of this heavenly tofu, exchanged money, and took off all in less than a minute. i love street food.

the afternoon took us to another city to discover burmese food, taiwanese style. max and his wife picked us up, and about 30 minutes later we were in another little network of burmese alleys in another city. we ordered soups, bean curd dishes, thinly sliced marinated pork, and this wonderful chili oil that was sweet and had a nice, slow burn to it. my friends convinced the owner to sell them a jar of it after he refused the first request. the owner is a bit of a local celebrity because of his patriotism for his adopted homeland of taiwan. pix to come that will show why.

yet more food was in store. after leaving the restaurant, we found green onion pancake vendors, egg tart stores, and this funny little fruit that looks like a black moustache. it was another great day.

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