There are a number of posts about traditions, history, food and even a section on living in Taiwan with disabilities. The book is full of lots of full-color pictures depicting Taiwan and it's people, culture and natural beauty. I've been living here about four an and half years, now and have adjusted to the differences between American Culture and Taiwanese Culture. I would encourage you to go to Amazon.com and purchase your copy of The Taiwan Adventure: An Expat's Observations of life in Taiwan. (The title is a link to Amazon.com's Chris Banducci page) If you're planning a move to Taiwan grab a copy of this book to give you a "heads up" about what to expect.
Look at some of the reviews the book has received:
I really enjoyed reading this book. It's informative, funny and very easy to read. I learned a lot about Taiwan, its complex history, customs and what it's like to be an American expat living in that country. I loved the section about food and the author's willingness to try different kinds of foods which may not always appeal to American tastes.
Taiwanese traditions such as the selling and brewing of tea, ghost month, the lunar calendar and other traditions are explained. There is a chapter on Disability in Taiwan which would be very helpful to anyone who wants to travel and has mobility issues. The author needs to use a wheelchair most of the time but it has not kept him from doing a lot of sightseeing in the country.
There are lots of tips on how to adjust to this particular culture and it seems the author and his family have done that very well.
I hope there is a sequel to this book. I'd be interested in how the author's teenage daughters adjusted to living in the country and how they perceive Taiwanese teen-agers. (sic)
(Taken from the Amazon.com website)
I will post some excerpts from the book over the next few weeks.
5.7 The Stink of Adventure
|Stinky Tofu at arm's length, which I think is safest.|
I debated what to call this article. I toyed around with the idea of calling it, Eating Around. But there was more to it than just eating in a lot of different places. It was kind of a culinary adventure, so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t really all that adventurous, well not for me anyway. I’ll try eating just about anything once, maybe twice depending on whether or not I got the full gastronomical sensation the first time. I’m not like my children who consider mushrooms on their Pizza to be the worst possible hardship. I don’t even want to think about their reaction to Anchovies.
But on to the adventure…My family left for a visit to America, I was to follow a week later. So, I was on my own. When living in the same house and sharing space with my wife, I am required to follow certain rules and
regulations, which are enforced for the good of my marriage. Aside from the
obvious marriage breakers, my wife enforces some fairly strict culinary
requirements. You may think that she’s thinking of my health, not allowing
me to eat high cholesterol or fatty foods, ensuring that I don’t become a
casualty to heart disease, cancer or diabetes. You might think that, but if you
did you would be wrong. Her concern revolves around something much more sensitive than those things, her concerns are olfactory.
Taiwanese people occasionally engage in what I like to call “Xtreme
Cooking.” This kitchen-based sport revolves around liberal uses of odoriferous
spices, herbs and other things. It may even make use of foods that in
themselves, have a high stench coefficient. These types of foods have been
included in the “illicit foods” list in our household. I have been told, on more
than one occasion, that if I come home with the scent of any of these
contraband food substances on my breath, in my skin or on my clothing that I will be sleeping folded into my desk chair, if I’m allowed into the house at all.
But for the moment, the storm troopers, er, uh…enforcement team was gone. So I did the only thing I could do, I immediately checked the “Summary of Forbidden Foods.” What should I do first…More Garlic snake? No, that’s too mundane. Do I need to make a trip through the night market, allowing my nose to guide me to the Xtreme Cooking experts? Completely unnecessary. A friend who had heard me speak wistfully of a food, which was at the top of that list, a sensitive person, who obviously cares for the real essence of manhood, solved the dilemma with two questions.
Two questions which speak directly to the core of mankind’s need of
adventure. Two questions which were shockingly simple. They weren’t
complex and requiring great thought. They weren’t like the question that
caused Charles Mallory, an early pioneer of Mt Everest, to hesitate and shyly answer, “Because it’s there.” No these were direct, to the point, there could only be one answer for each of these questions. The first, was a call to
adventure, it was framed, on the idea that the time was now…that opportunity may knock only once and then drift off to find someone who would answer more promptly. In other words there was an urgency to this question that could not be denied, “Did your wife leave for America, today.” I was tingling with expectation. The question that followed was so obvious that I was embarrassed not to have thought of it myself, “Do you want to try Stinky Tofu.” It was brilliant, I almost wept at the elegance of the idea.
|Chris Banducci, and his copy of The Taiwan Adventure|
Of course, I wanted to try it. Every time, my wife smelled it and wrinkled her nose and complained that the odor was the worst thing she had ever smelled, I had to wonder how something like that would taste. The smell was like a siren call to me. It tantalized, no less than the mermaids of old tantalized the men of the sea. Although, I will admit that as food it is entirely appropriate in its name. But perhaps, to an adventurer that was the allure.
After all, what caused men to climb the highest peaks in the world? No one, who has ever climbed a mountain, has ever been heard to exclaim, “I want to do it because it will be easy and I just love a nice, cozy tent.” No! The cold, the danger, the difficulty, those were the things that drew men to death zone of Everest. The danger and the discomfort were the draw. This is what makes an adventure, an adventure.
I was ready to throw aside the comfort foods, I cared not for the
delicately flavored tasty combinations; I had a hunger for adventure. There are two ways to prepare Stinky Tofu, I had only to choose one, and my friend like a trusty Sherpa guide, would get me there. What is Stinky Tofu? It’s Tofu with a twist. They take the soy bean curd, (that’s what Tofu is) and they ferment it. People in Asia do this with a number of foods. Kimchi is fermented cabbage. Thousand-year-old eggs are fermented eggs. Stinky Tofu is fermented soy bean curd.
They prepare it in two ways; they either steam it or deep-fry it. I have
heard, from more than one source, some of them were even Taiwanese, that,
steamed Stinky Tofu, tastes exactly like it smells. I’ve seen it, and it looks like it smells, as well. Hey, in food, even for me, presentation is important. So I opted for the deep fried type. The lust for adventure runs deep in my
family…but not that deep.
I found it to be surprisingly tasty. It was covered with a garlic sauce and topped with cabbage. I have spoken to a number of Taiwanese people about food. In fact, I talk to everyone about food. Most of the Taiwanese people I speak to name Stinky Tofu among their favorite foods. I met a bunch of seventh graders who claimed they liked Stinky Tofu better than ice cream.
This adventure didn’t end with just Stinky Tofu. It was an adventure of
monumental scope. We traveled throughout Taoyuan City stopping at a
number of food carts. These are little carts where people prepare food, right on the side of the road. These are the places where you can really get the taste of Taiwan.
I enjoyed Stinky Tofu, the forbidden fruit of Taiwan; well, forbidden in my house, anyway, but I think it’ll be a while before I eat it again. My wife isn’t planning on traveling again anytime soon.