November 20, 2007
One of the fun things to try when traveling is, of course, the food. One aspect often overlooked however, are the local snacks.
In Taiwan there are a large number of snacks, some perhaps not so attractive to western thinking, but some that you might even find slipping into your suitcase when you leave.
So in this section of the blog we will be introducing some of the local specialties and where to get them. You can divide snacks into fresh and prepackaged. The fresh you will see in the nightmarkets and from street vendors, where the prepackaged you’ll find in one of the many convenience stores and supermarkets. We’ll focus on the more readily available prepackaged snacks, so you have no excuse not to try some!
To kick off, perhaps my favorite snack, wasabe peanuts. Wasabe is a kind of horseradish which will familiar to those of you who like Japanese food (it’s the green stuff that is guaranteed to clear out the sinuses).
Peanuts are grown extensively in Taiwan, and this snack perfectly marries the two flavors. Although they look scary, they are not as fiery as they look. Still, pop a couple in your mouth and breathe out through your nose and you will still get a pleasant buzz, and it will still clear the sinuses nicely. This must surely be the best snack to take home and challenge friends and family to see how many they can eat at one time.
When surveying my Taiwanese friends about their favorite snack food, the number one choice was “pao mien”, or instant noodles. The type shown here can be eaten dry, are very cheap and can be found everywhere. As a quick snack, they are salty, but definitely worth a try. If you are a fan of pot noodles, then check out the many different kinds also available. You will be given chopsticks when you buy them, so all you have to do is add boiling water when you get back to your hotel room, cover and wait a few minutes then tuck in.
Dried are very popular in Taiwan, with fruit, meat and fish or squid being the top choices.? You are probably already familiar with dried meat (jerky) and fruit (dried mangos are great), but fish and squid maybe not.
Although it might not sound attractive, the dried fish and squid strips aren’t half bad. Pop a few in your mouth and chew for a taste of the ocean!
If you are a fan of chips, there is a great variety to choose from. A long standing Taiwan favorite is a brand? called “Guai Guai” (where the “ai” is pronounced “aye”). These rice snacks come in a variety of flavours these days, but the 5 spice variety are the originals and I think still the best.
These are just a few of the most popular snacks that I encourage you to try, but there are many more. With everything when you travel, it’s good to try as many new things as you can. Snacks can make an interesting gift and talking point when you come home, but are often overlooked. If you buy some Taiwan tea when you are here with some snacks, you can hold a Taiwan tea party when you get back as you show your photos.
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