Saturday, February 05, 2011

About Taiwan food

taiwan dishes-menu

Steamed asparagus with sweet mayonnaise

chilled mixed sashimi with the obligatory wasabi,soy sauce dip and white radish

chau ha ma (fried clams in soya sauce flavoured with chilli and garlic and chinese basil)

Taiwan has a fascinating history. It has been in the possession of 5 colonial powers during different periods: The Spanish, Dutch, Chinese (under the Ming and Qing dynasties), the Japanese and the Chinese again under the KMT (since democratization and free elections in 1996, it is no longer considered a colony of the KMT). There are therefore many subtle influences in Taiwanese food.

Interestingly, the introduction of asparagus to Taiwan predates all but the earliest Chinese settlers as it was introduced by the Dutch in the very early 1640's, a time when only 1 - 2% of the population were Chinese, the remainder being aboriginal tribes people. The Dutch of course brought the asparagus along with other European vegetables to grow alongside native varieties in order to make it feel a bit more like home. They also introduced mayonnaise to Taiwan ... and the Dutch and Belgiums still eat their chips (American English: french fries, 'french' being a verb meaning 'to slice thinly' , not a noun referring to anything from France) with mayonnaise rather than ketchup.

However, I have never heard of a Dutchman eating asparagus with sweet mayonnaise, so yes, I would have to say that it IS a Taiwanese invention - and I must say, a very delicious one at that.

As a footnote - you can also get bamboo root with sweet mayonnaise (the more popular of the two dishes) and both are served chilled and come highly recommended.

by fabian graham

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