As promised, I’m back and ready to talk about the best part of the trip: the food and culture. Taiwan only has 23 million people (that’s 1 million less than Shanghai’s official population), but what it lacks in people, it makes up for in flavor and culture. It preserves much of pre communist China and many of the relics that were once in the Forbidden City are actually in Taipei. Since we were biking in the (more beautiful) countryside, we did not get to do some of the more touristy activities such as museums and night markets, but that didn’t matter.
Taiwan is pretty much synonymous with good food, and the organizers weren’t going to let us starve. We were in the countryside so everything was extremely fresh and pretty cheap 🙂 My favorite dish had to be the salt baked carp
It’s a speciality of the Bu Nong tribe and it was DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The carp is a special type of carp only found in Taiwan; so fresh!!!!!. It’s baked at a high temperature to render the fat; the salt locks in moisture and gives the meat flavor.
There was also plenty of delicious salt water chicken. Salt water chicken is ubiquitous around Taiwan and Canton, but the ones we had were particularly good. A couple of the restaurants were actually raising the chickens in their backyard.
The most interesting thing I had was the milk hot pot. It’s literally hotpot except the soup is replaced with milk
The milk was less than a day old so it was on a completely different playing field than the bottled milk in the cities
Hands down the best meal of the trip was at this place called CASA
CASA is run by a charity group called 啄木鸟 (Woodpecker). It helps adolescents from disadvantaged, minority families develop skills so they stay on the right road. Our entire meal was prepared by four youths, all under 25. The owners of the restaurant had always wanted one; after many hardships, including having to use their own child’s college fund, their dream became a reality. Touching story aside, the food was AMAZING!!!!
This place actually had the best salt baked carp of all the restaurants we went to. After the meal, one of the dads offered to help expand this restaurant and charity into Shanghai. We are all looking forward to that moment and will all be involved. I might even get to be a chef!!!!
The organizers decided that three, huge, delicious meals a day weren’t enough, so they further tempted us with Taiwanese snacks.
Home made peanut candy
So that’s it for this amazing and delicious trip. I’ll definitely be going back to Taiwan and I encourage all of you to go too. Happy Holidays!!!!!!!