Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taiwan Travelogue: The Traditional Market

Learning Chinese and about Taiwan

I’m adding a little Chinese lesson with today’s post. The words in parenthesis are the pin yin equivalent of the Chinese character. So if you read pinyin you will be able to pronounce those words. If not I have put the English phonetic spelling as well. In the pinyin the number represents the tone that is pronounced. 1= high neutral that is no accent, 2 = starts low and moves up (like at the end of a question in English), 3 = starts high drops down and then goes back up, 4 = Starts high and drops off abruptly.

Today Elizabeth and I went to the Traditional Market (shi4 chang3 [sheer chong]). It’s like a swap meet but they sell absolutely everything there. We usually buy produce (cai4 [tsy]) at the Traditional market, because it is locally grown and has a much better flavor than you find at the supermarket (chao1 ji2 shi4 chang3). You know how vegetables taste when you grow them at home and allow them to vine ripen. Delicious. But you have to go every couple of days.

We don’t buy beef (Niu2 Rou4 [nyo row]) or pork (zhu1 rou4 [jew row]) at the Traditional Market. And if you look at the picture you’ll see why. It doesn’t matter how hot it is the beef and pork are unrefrigerated. You better eat it that day. The fish (yu3 rou4 [yu row]) is at least on ice. They clean it and filet it after you buy it. The other nice thing about the traditional market is that you can bargain with the shopkeeper (Lao3 Ban3 [lou (as in loud) bahn]). You say “Qing3 yi1 dian3 pian2 yi” [ching ee dien pien ee] ) “Please, a little bit cheaper,” and they will make a decision if they can or not.

We also like to buy fruit (shui3 guo3 [shway gwah]) at the traditional market. Actually we go to one fruit stand (shui3 guo3 dian4 [shway gwah dien]) because we really like the shopkeeper (A female shopkeeper is called Lao3 Ban3 niang4 [Lou bahn niahng]). She always gives us free stuff and is extremely friendly. She’s a Vietnamese girl married to a Taiwanese man and speaks Vietnamese, Mandarin, and English. She works 7 days a week from 9am to 11 pm at the shop.

Here are some photos of the Traditional market.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Taiwan Travelogue:  Old Ceramics Street
Local Color:  The Temples of Taoyuan City
Taiwan Travelogue:  Overlooking Taoyuan City

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eating My Way Through Taiwan: Bao zi

One of the things I have enjoyed most about being in Taiwan is the food. I love to eat food. I am game for just about anything. No limits…at least so far there hasn’t been anything I wouldn’t try. I’m not saying I like everything I eat, but I’ll try almost anything. So I have decided to do a short series I’m calling Eating my way through Taiwan.

I’m going to take you with me to the little food carts and shops throughout Taoyuan and show you what I’m eating. There are a number of things that will surprise you; and others will seem familiar.

Food in Taiwan is very similar to Chinese Food. If you live near Riverside, California and want to taste authentic Taiwanese food try the University Café on University and Iowa Avenues. That place serves authentic Taiwanese food. Including Pearl Tea. Pearl Tea has small balls of Tapioca that slip interestingly up your straw. In Taiwan it is Pearl Tea The University Café calls it Boba Milk Tea. (This shameless plug was not paid for in any way…YET.)

Bao zi

Today I’m going to focus on Bao zi. (Steamed Buns) This is a delicious breakfast meal. You can get Meat (Rou Bao) or Vegetable (Cai Bao). Generally, you will find them frozen in supermarkets. But there are many little shops (bao dian) where they are sold.

What they are is seasoned pork inside a bun made of bread. Steam them for 15 minutes and they are ready to eat. They’re one of my favorite foods in Taiwan. But you have to be careful with these bad boys, if you eat too many of them you’ll look like a Bao zi.

If you want these in the US you will have to look in Chinatown. I searched all over Riverside and never found them there.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  Japanese Barbeque
Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  A Traditional Restaurant
Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  Hot Pot
Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  Hei Tong Cuo Bing
Taiwan Travelogue:  The Traditional Market