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Taiwan Exploring various foods that hold importance to MVHS students and faculty from Taiwan

By Leanna Sun

Taiwanese culture has been making its way to America since the early 20th Century, especially after the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 — the law eliminating advantages Europeans had in immigrating to America — was passed. Since then, Chinese and Taiwanese populations increased drastically and the traditions that followed these groups have also found their way into America.

One aspect of Taiwanese culture that is now ingrained in American culture is its cuisine, which contains indigenous Taiwanese, Japanese and mainland Chinese influences. Although authentic Taiwanese restaurants might be hard to come by in the US, especially compared to authentic Chinese restaurants, the range of foods that make up this cuisine is undeniable. Read below to learn about three Taiwanese foods that are significant to Taiwanese culture, as well students and faculty at MVHS.

卤肉饭

Chinese teacher I-Chu Chang, who grew up in Taiwan and moved to America later in her life, recalls a childhood favorite dish that her father would often buy for their family to enjoy together.

“卤肉饭, which is chopped pork braised in soy sauce on rice, for my family was a big thing because when I was little, we rarely ate out,” Chang said. “We would feel so special because 卤肉饭 was a special treat for us. Whenever I think of 卤肉饭, I just miss my dad and my mom, and that to me is significant.”

Despite becoming vegetarian five years ago, seeing meat in this dish has not dissuaded Chang from wanting to try it.

“People have been asking me ‘Do you miss any meat?’ or ‘Do you want to eat anything that has seafood?’” Chang said. “I say ‘No,’ but when I see 卤肉饭, I would sort of want to have a bite. It’s not really that I want to eat meat, it’s because I miss how it was when I had 卤肉饭 when I was little.”

Photo courtesy of Alain

Shabu-shabu

Though hot pot originated in Mongolia, this dish had spread to other parts of Asia, and countries such as Japan and mainland China have added their own twists. Shabu-shabu, which is Japanese styled hot pot, is identical to Taiwanese hot pot due to Japanese influences. Compared to mainland Chinese hot pot, junior Joshua Ho specifies the differences as his family frequently eats homemade hot pot.

“We just buy a soup base from a store and then buy vegetables and some ingredients,” Ho said. “We usually buy a lot of tofu, mushrooms, cabbage and for meat, there’s mainly beef.”

In addition to the flavor that makes this dish appetizing, Ho recalls moments where hot pot also helped create bonds with his friends and family, especially during holidays or special events.

“Hot pot is something that can bring your whole family together, as you can have lots of other people and extended family, or even friends, just come around one dish,” Ho said. “You can all work together to make it and add ingredients. You can just sit around a big table and have conversations and it's something that can bring you and others together.”

Photo courtesy of T.Tseng

bubble tea

Bubble tea, also known as bubble milk tea and boba, emerged in Taiwan during the 1980s. Before moving to Cupertino in ninth grade, sophomore Miranda Lin would buy bubble tea twice a day when she lived in Taiwan. An avid drinker of this Taiwanese speciality, Lin explains the differences she notices between the bubble tea in Taiwan and Cupertino.

“For the boba over here, people like to eat the texture of [the pearls],” Lin said. “They care more about the [pearls], but in my perspective, I care more about the tea. The tea over here is just too sweet and [has] too much sugar, but in Taiwan, when you drink boba you can taste the flavor[s] of the different tea[s].”

One of Lin’s favorite bubble tea drinks is the brown sugar milk tea, noting the consistency in how its made throughout different boba stores. Brown sugar milk tea has gained a considerable amount of traction for its dark brown sugar engulfed pearls and dark brown sugar drizzles on the side.

“The flavor is stronger than other boba drinks,” Lin said. “Since they dip the pearls in thick sugar, the pearls also have a stronger and better flavor.”

Credits:

Created with images by Markus Winkler - "untitled image" • Phan Anh Tran - "untitled image"