Thursday, June 19, 2008
So I'm nearing the end of my journey here in Taiwan. Overall it hasn't been what I expected out of this trip. Usually we have my parents around to take us to places and show us things from their past, but this time around they didn't make the trip over with us. So here I am with my younger sister, exploring Taiwan for the first time as legal adults.
There actually was not much exploring. Perhaps the exploring of food was done more, but in terms of travel and adventure... there was a certain thing to be desired. It wasn't that we didn't anywhere, in fact we explored pretty much all of Taipei. But we were much more used to traveling all of Taiwan.
Given that the Island is only about 200 miles from end to end,traveling was not a tough task. Especially with the recent advances on the island with travel. Not only has the subway system here been extremely easy to use, but it has become the most reliable in the world. My daily travels involve the subway, so I know for a fact that it is an amazingly easy way to travel, even with the limited English in the station.
Another new form of transport here is the awesome new bullet train system that runs from the north of the island, to the south. What used to take 4 hours of driving through mountain roads, or sitting on a slow train, now takes an hour and half with the German built trains. I had the priviledge of taking a ride in one of these, and it was a blast. At over 100 mph, it was the smoother than anything I have ever ridden on. Comfort wise, it was pretty much like an airplane but with more legroom.
The food here has been amazing. I've had some wonderful experiences and some odd ones as well. The most pleasurable was finally getting to try the famous Toro. Toro is blue fin tuna belly. Its the most fatty part of the fish, and the most tasteful. At about $18 US a piece...it is the most expensive as well. Was it worth it? Definately. With the first bite, my taste buds exploded from such a wonderful taste from all that fat in the fish itself. Honestly, words can not describe it. Never in my life have I experienced such flavor and pure enjoyment from food. My advice to everyone is: if you get the chance, take it. Sure its expensive, but if you go to a Japanese restaurant and you see this wonderful little delicacey sitting in the ice box at the sushi bar, good lord, buy a piece. You will not regret it.
In terms of wierd stuff, right before I had the Toro, I was presented with Uni (Sea Urchin) and a "special" part of a blowfish...which is poisonous by the way. The sea urchin was extremely fishy in taste. It was topped off with caviar which didn't help. However, the taste was so unique that it was a great experience. I probably would never get anything like it again seeing as how it wasn't my favorite, but I didn't dislike it either. Now for the blowfish...thing. I wasn't told what it was till after I had a bite, but apparently it was what we men would have as testicles, but the fish version. Now taste wise it was odd, but it wasn't bad. I didn't tell my sister what she just ate either. Eating these things aren't new to me though. I had rooster balls the last time I was in Taiwan.
To top off the that same dinner, we had the best Sake I've ever had. It was ice cold and had a distinctively sweeter taste than other Sakes I've had. Later that night, we had some Vodka with lime. Perhaps my favorite drink at this point of my life.
That was an interesting night. Most of the time however, food was typical Taiwanese. Lots of pork, bamboo shoots, and sea food. Most unique about Taiwan is their night markets. You can spend a whole night trying different foods from stand to stand, without spending more than $10. Yes...food is that cheap here. If your a food officionado, then look no further than Taiwan.
Japanese food is really cheap here. In fact, probably the cheapest in the world. Even the Japanese cannot match Taiwan in price. $1 for 4 pieces of salmon sashimi? Absolutely unheard of anywhere else. 5 of us went to eat sushi, and only spent about $30, and came out extremely satisfied in terms of the volume of fish we just consumed. However, the one draw back to this is that I'm starting to get sick of it. What was once my favorite delicacey and something I would spoil myself with, has become nothing more than just "something around the corner". So I'm giving it a break when I get back to the States. Perhaps I'll get my appetite back.
Things I miss most about food in the States. Well burgers for one. Beef just doesn't seem to be a common meat used. Last but not least, its gotta be cheese. No body eats cheese here at all. Sure its on pizzas, but cheese is everywhere in the States, and boy do I miss it. In fact, tomorrow I'm going to McDonalds for a Big Mac. Probably the only thing thats the same on the menu here and in the US. That and fries of course.
Anyways, that it for food. Another post later on for travels and places we visited.