Wurst Case Scenario
Letter from Taipei! Nora Lessing discovers culinary specialties.
Feb 08, 2016
Each day between 6 and 9 p.m., Taipei's inner city is packed with people on the lookout for food. Going out to meet friends over dinner is one of the most important activities in Taiwan. So there's an impressive and overwhelming quantity of food stalls, restaurants, and night markets to choose from. Creative varieties of delicious tofu and bouquets of mouth-watering tropical fruit are sold everywhere. What doesn't strike me as quite so thrilling are several other Taiwanese favorites like chicken feet, pig blood cake, or deep-fried duck tongues.
Since I'm from a continent where molded milk products are sold as specialties, it's really not my place to judge. However, I haven't eaten meat or fish in more than ten years and I do not speak Chinese, and that combination of attributes proves to be a bit of a challenge.
Sesam Bar or Blood Cake?
Optically, it's mostly hard to tell whether the product on display is, e.g., a sesame bar, a desert made from jelly, or the infamous blood cake. And so far, I tend to come across animal parts where I would have suspected them the least.
You Can't Live on Processed Cheese Alone
One time, a friendly old man served me a sweet steamed bun for breakfast that was filled with pork. Another time, what looked like campfire twist bread turned out to be a sausage on a stick that was generously treated with food dye. Shopping at the supermarket helps to avoid thes kind of surprise, but I have to admit that it's not very enjoyable to live on toast and processed cheese. Lately, my flatmate Flori has been helping me to learn to distinguish between tofu and intestines.
And I have to admit that I'm not too sorry about missing out on chicken butt and bulls testicles – even though I have been told they are supposed to be delicious.