Food in Taiwan

For me, being in Taiwan is really about food. There’s plenty of really good food. Some extraordinary, other just unique.

General convenience store food

They are pretty good so they deserve a highlight. You can get these tea eggs there. You can probably get better ones in the night market but convenience stores are really — well — convenient after midnight. They are good for a quick bite in the wee hours if you are hungry.

Food you can get in Family Mart

Rao He night market

Raohe Street Night Market shouldn’t be missed. It’s a stretch of authentic Taiwanese food with some random novelties.

Crepes with corn

The above is crepes with corn. We had a chocolate banana one. Sinful but delicious.


These rice-filled squid is good too.

Rice-filled squid

Simple breakfast

I prefer the simpler of breakfasts, sometimes it is quite filling so you can treat it as brunches.

This is near Long San Temple, it’s a simple porridge dish:

Simple porridge as a breakfast Continue reading “Food in Taiwan”

Instagramming during a fire

I had this brief discussion with a friend. In an event of a fire, why do people Instagram?

The answer really is just because it is eventful. How many times will you see a fire? How many times will you see a sushi? Given that, don’t you think fire is more worth taking pictures of than food?

That obviously is missing the point, I imagine you would retort. Fires could be dangerous, sushis only delicious.

But isn’t that the whole purpose of Instagram — to take record all things eventful? Yes, and that is why we take pictures during fires! Because our minds are trained to record this and share with our friends our experiences. Maybe they shared you a picture of a devastating building collapse in vintage filters before.

So it perhaps is quite foolish to be expose of the risks of a fire but at least we proved it happened and we were there. I instagram the shit out of things, crosspost it to Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook and my Tumblr no one reads. And the journalist in me is going to take another video, paused with segments, using Vine. I am also going to take a Blair Witch Project kinda video while running and upload it to YouTube after applying toy camera effects.

The question people ask is why. The question I ask is why the hell not.

The food we threw away

The average rubbish bin in Singapore holds something quite unexpected for some. Discover what happens when we realise exactly how much food we discard without a second thought. makan mantra is a student-led initiative to reduce food waste in Singapore.

There are observable wastage in the office areas especially. And why’s that so?

  1. The food isn’t what we expect
  2. We might not be conscious over the amount of the food we are receiving
  3. Even if we do, the price of the food doesn’t typically decrease
  4. We buy additional food to share with others

1. The food isn’t what we expect

This is simple. I didn’t know this is so spicy so I couldn’t take it. I will go order something else.

Or maybe the spaghetti bolognese  looks terrible and didn’t taste good enough. We all want the best and at some point of time I tell myself I rather waste food than to take in food I do not want to eat. Is it fair to the hungry people in Afghanistan? Not at all. Do we still do it? Yes! Because by eating the horrible food, we gave in and accepted the extra calories and misery we could have easily deflected by just ordering something else. Food is affordable and happiness is at stake.

2. We might not be conscious over the amount of the food we are receiving

This happens quite often to me at least. I overestimate the amount of food I need in McDonald’s nearly all the time. The person at the cashier helpfully asks if I would like an upsize. Of course baby! Double upsize it, will you? And oh, change that drink to Milo. And you know what, I know want a sundae also, chocolate fudge please. Oh, Twister Fries? Why not?! Thank you!

And that’s how I end up with food I can’t finish. My fault? Maybe. But it does happen often because I’m not the one processing the food, the price of the food I am paying for is not significantly higher if I make these add ons. Sometimes I’m just feeling really hungry and I estimate my possible intake incorrectly.

3. Even if we do, the price of the food doesn’t typically decrease

Okay you go to Food Republic to have a meal. You order this beef noodle you know you cannot finish this time. So you ask if you could have lesser noodles. Do you get a discount? Nope. Same price as always.

This discourages me from even asking in the first place. It’s really market forces here acting, or rather the lack of. If things get cheaper, I might make a conscious effort to ask for lesser. More just doesn’t hurt the individual. I know you’re hating me right now, but cool off bro.

4. We buy additional food to share with others

This fried oyster egg thing. We always have a plate of it as an extra because someone in the party would have the craving for it. (I never have this craving, by the way.) So this person will order it but he or she will never just have it alone right? So they share, which itself is a beautiful gesture.

Let’s define the scenario clearer. There are 4 people, and Person A wants some sinful fried oyster egg. So Person A’s gonna buy a small portion, costing 3$. It’s great, and perhaps everybody’s happy. What if there are 8 people? Person A’s not going to just get a small portion. Okay, make it a large then, 5$. Person A can afford it and is willing to share with friends. And to worsen things a little, Person A doesn’t tell anyone he or she’s ordering fried oyster egg to share since Person A isn’t expecting anyone else to pay, it’s a treat. Now let me introduce Person B. Person B is very much like Person A, only that he likes fried carrot cake this time and similarly he got a large portion of it, 5$, gonna share too.

So effectively we ended up with an abundance of food we cannot finish and the cleaning dude shaking his head in disgust.

So what can I do better?

This works for me but might not for you. I always look at what others are having and sometimes I see something that looks nice and I order it. For those cases at least it is easy to recognize that I might not be able to finish the food and I order less of it.

If the person whom you’re eating with is close to you, half your portions and share this way. Also announcing that you’re going to buy something to share might give you a good idea who might be disinterested with the addons you are ordering.

Lastly, the less popular opinion, maybe food prices can still be increased.

Why does food taste better when others make them

From The New York Times’ Cooking section:

Why Do Sandwiches Taste Better When Someone Else Makes Them?

When you make your own sandwich, you anticipate its taste as you’re working on it. And when you think of a particular food for a while, you become less hungry for it later. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, for example, found that imagining eating M&Ms makes you eat fewer of them. It’s a kind of specific satiation, just as most people find room for dessert when they couldn’t have another bite of their steak. The sandwich that another person prepares is not “preconsumed” in the same way.

Source: New York Times

Haven’t thought of it that way.

What, actually, are figs?

I just found a new reason to dislike figs from the market. I don’t like them in the first place but they tend to come with the mixed nuts that I have as snacks. I bought the one with figs before realizing how hard to chew they are. Anyway, spoiler, figs have wasp:

Figs are not actually fruits but a mass of inverted flowers and seeds that are pollinated by a species of tiny symbiotic wasps. The male fig flower is the only place where the female wasp can lay her eggs, at the bottom of a narrow opening in the fruit that she shimmies her way through. The baby wasps mature inside the fig into males that have sharp teeth but no wings and females ready to fly. They mate, the males chew through the special fig pollen holders and drop them down to the females, chew holes in the skin of the fig to let the females out, and then die. The females, armed with the pollen, fly off in search of new male figs to lay her eggs in. In the process some of the female wasps land on female figs that don’t have the special egg receptacle but trick the female into shimmying inside. As the female wasp slides through the narrow passage in the fig her wings are ripped off (egg laying is a one-way mission) and while she is unsuccessful in laying her eggs, she successfully pollinates the female flower. The female flower then ripens into the fig that you can get at the supermarket, digesting the trapped wasp inside with specialized enzymes! (Source: ScienceBlogs)

A related video:

NATURE | The Queen of Trees | Wasps Inside the Fig | PBS

This is one part of nature that I am amazed about — that two species so different can be made so interdependent to each other. It almost seemed like perfect engineering.