Monday, September 22, 2008

NY Times article on food

The NY Times travel section has a long article on food in Taipei.

And Taiwan? The little democratic island of 23 million just can’t compete with the Communist state of 1.3 billion that claims it as a renegade province and would react unfavorably if Taiwan’s leaders were officially to declare independence. Unless you’re in the semiconductor business, chances are you’ll choose the Forbidden City over, say, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, especially when Taiwan’s tourist bureau promotes it with slogans like “Taiwan: Touch Your Heart.”

Which is a pity if you like to eat, for food is one arena where Taipei — the world’s most underrated capital city, according to Monocle magazine — blows Beijing away. Its food incorporates more influences, spans street food to haute cuisine with greater aplomb and is out and out more delicious than that of its mainland counterpart. Not to mention that its people are perhaps the most comestible-crazed Asians outside of Singapore — no excursion is complete without, say, a bag of stewed duck tongues at journey’s end.

Had to laugh at the dig at Taiwan's klutzy tourism bureau. Although I know many people who would strongly dispute the claim that Taipei blows Beijing away. Three pages, a long and loving look at the island's culinary capital. (hat tip to Joel H, come back to Taiwan soon, man!)

10 comments:

The Taipei Kid said...

I think calling Ximending an "exuberant neon-lighted night life-and-shopping zone that's like a friendlier version of Shibuya in Tokyo" is a bit too much. He forgot to add the part about smarms of teenyboppers, homeless people, prostitutes, and good old-fashioned filth/nastiness.

I would never recommend anyone eating at Ximending. I think most of the restaurants are just plain dirty. The last time I gave that place a second chance was actually a few weeks ago. Some old man with some sort of horrific, and I mean totally horrific, skin disease walked into the restaurant, sat down at the empty table next to my friend and I, and went on and on about the foreigner being able to use chopsticks. Needless to say, it ruined our meal. Never again.

I guess I will never understand the attraction of standing up and eating organ meats out of green bowls, either.

Anonymous said...

"I would never recommend anyone eating at Ximending. I think most of the restaurants are just plain dirty."
"I guess I will never understand the attraction of standing up and eating organ meats out of green bowls, either."

Ximending itself and the food in Ximending has a special place in the hearts of most of Taiwanese who grew up in Taipei. You are clearly a foreigner who has zero respect for Taiwanese culture and have zero interest in autehntic Taiwanese food. No one is forcing you to stay in Taiwan and eat our food. You should go home and eat in your "clean" restaurants and kosher food in YOUR country.

Anonymous said...

"I think calling Ximending an "exuberant neon-lighted night life-and-shopping zone that's like a friendlier version of Shibuya in Tokyo" is a bit too much. He forgot to add the part about smarms of teenyboppers, homeless people, prostitutes, and good old-fashioned filth/nastiness."

Ximending holds a lot of nostaligia for longtime Taipei residents (1960s and earler) despite how ratty it is in comparison to "modern" Taipei. In a city that has undergone such drastic changes in recent decades as Taipei, it's nice to know some places from one's childhood memories still exist.

Mark said...

Haha. Franc pounced on that piece. With good reason, I might add.

Anonymous said...

As I discovered in my trips to mainland China, the so called "Szechuan," "Shanghai," or "Peiping" restaurants that I grew up with in Taipei are actually Taiwanized versions of mainland cuisine altered to suit Taiwanese tastes. I can't say objectively which is better, but I prefer the Tawianese versions of mainland cuisines over the "real thing" over in mainland China.

mim said...

Wait, isn't southern Taiwanese food even better than northern Taiwanese? Which would make Tainan the culinary capital! :D

Anonymous said...

maybe the writer thinks taipei has better food than beijing because in taiwan they tend to cook with real foods. you know, like real meat, real vegetables, real milk as opposed to beijing where you can't even trust what you are eating isn't some asbestos-laced plastic painted to look like food or laced with melamine or some other cancer-causing product.

i'm surprised any country in the world would continue to import any food products from china.

Anonymous said...

I predict that this disaster of a Chinese food industry is going to really help the growing foodie/organic food movement here, which might be such a bad thing. The pesticide use in Taiwan is sort of a right in your backyard problem rather than a somewhere in the giant Midwest where I don't need to know about it problem. If you've ever seen before and after video of fields in the Ilan-Hualien-Taidung East Coast that have gone completely organic, it's really breathtaking. It's like a sappy made-for-TV movie with butterflies and dragonflies fluttering through previously very quiet fields. You start noticing something was missing in those very serene looking vast green fields of pesticide-treated vegetables and rice. Like an ecosystem.

Wait, have you mentioned the poisoned milk scandal? Is it not being mentioned much in the English-language world? I thought it was pretty big in the US too...

Readin said...

Wait, have you mentioned the poisoned milk scandal? Is it not being mentioned much in the English-language world? I thought it was pretty big in the US too...

I suspect Americans don't much milk from China. Milk has to be very fresh, so shipping halfway around the world is probably difficult. Also, the U.S. has a lot of cows.

Anonymous said...

Chinese milk is all over the US by way of processed foods. It's not in the form of fresh milk obviously, but in the form of milk powder that goes into all kinds of products. Not as common as in Asia, but all over.