Posted by on Aug 20, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 2 comments

Due to a lack of stable internet, S.S.Munchies has not been able to update with new posts for quite a while now. So, while I still have a steady stream of access, I’ll leave you all with a quick post about one of Taiwan’s specialties: fruit!

Everyone loves fruit! Okay, I suppose I can’t speak for everyone but I know that I love fruit…even the ones that I’m allergic to. But an itchy throat doesn’t mean much to me as long as I’m rewarded with sweet juicy deliciousness. Thus, I persevere and continue to stuff my face (my specialty). =]

Fruit in America just doesn’t compare with those of Taiwan’s. Here, everything is fresher, bigger, and ohmygawdelicious! From the common pear to the exotic Custard Apple, I’m more than happy to eat a meal that consists of fruit and only fruit…Oh wait, I already do that. Silly me~

Unfortunately, this will only be a small sneak peek at the wide assortment of fruits available in Taiwan due to:

  1. My being shamefully unprepared with a camera many times when stuffing my face, and
  2. Certain fruits are either out of season or not yet in season

Nevertheless! Here is a small introduction to fruits that I’m sure everyone has tried before, and some that you may not yet have had a chance to. 

Starting off with the Custard Apple, as mentioned above in my program, this fruit is quite unique.

Named after Buddha’s head due to its strange shape, it falls apart easily in your hands (which can sometimes be inconvenient) but the taste is an awarding sweetness, pleasantly similar to that of custard.

There’s quite a lot of seeds and it can be almost a hassle to eat, but makes a good snack for when you’re just sitting around watching television or something.

The Dragon Fruit, also known as the Pitaya/Pitahaya orhuǒ lóng guǒ (火龍果) in Chinese [literally translated as the Fire Dragon Fruit], is the fruit of a cactus. Which cactus? I haven’t a clue, but I imagine its flowers are rather impressive little creatures.

All I know is that despite the outside of the dragon fruit looking like a hot pink, underdeveloped artichoke of sorts, the inside is a monochromatic contradiction to the brazen colors of the outside rind.

The fruit is made up of supple white flesh, flecked with a scattered design of black poppy-like seeds. With a mouth-watering, light, sweet taste, the texture of the flesh is soft and creamy.

I’m told that the Dragon Fruit is highly concentrated in Vitamin C, minerals, and a high fiber content…not like any of that actually crosses my mind while I’m busily peeling its rind.

Next up is the pineapple, but not just any pineapple! This one’s albino.

The pineapple is seen as a symbol of luck and prosperity in Taiwan. This is due to the leafy parts of the pineapple looking similar to that of a crown, as well as it being called ‘ong lai’ in Taiwanese which is pronounced closely to the word ‘prosperity’ (wong lai).

The white pineapple is supposedly sweeter and juicier than the regular yellow pineapples. I was a bit skeptical at first until I took a bite. Then another, and another, and another…

Last but not least are the Fragrant Melon (xiang gua) and the beloved mango.

I have to say, I wasn’t a very big fan of the Fragrant Melon, but then I realized my mistake was that I never had it when it was fully ripe…or overripe even. When the melon’s not yet ready to eat, it tastes like a cucumber with a very very light sweetness. It looks like a small cantaloupe and when it’s ripe, it tastes somewhat like it too.

The mango on the other hand is possibly my absolute favorite fruit here in Taiwan. I crave for it all year long while in America and am always sorely disappointed when I finally go out to indulge. The mangos here are bigger, sweeter (with a slight tang), and juicier…and perfect on shaved ice.

Mmm-mm, now doesn’t that look good? Just makes you want to indulge a bit doesn’t it?I know that when I come back to Taiwan mango shaved ice is #1 on my list of “Things-to-Eat”.

Here at the Shih-lin night market, just one stop away from RTI, I was introduced to a spectacular little shop nestled away in the maze of shops and little streets.

This mango shaved ice is made especially from milk ice which gives it an overall creamier taste (along with the aid of condensed milk). Chunks of fresh mango was the bit of tartness that was needed to offset the sweet and to my surprise, each small ‘flake’ of ‘bladed snow’ was still intact instead of melting into a giant chunk of ice. Every bite just makes you want to dig in for more.

My thanks to Pin-An for showing me around the Shih-lin night market, and Emily for accompanying me due to my own inability to navigate the streets successfully.

Afterwards, on a return trip with my family, I decided to try out a different flavor as my curious eyes had spotted green colored ice before.

Matcha green tea ice with a scoop of red beans on the side, the ice wasn’t bitter in the least and yet the taste of the green tea was delightfully strong. The red beans weren’t overly sweet and cooked long enough that they were soft when chewing.

Well, back on topic (sort of), while I won’t be sharing much more about fruits, I just wanted to drop one more line about the JingMei night market.

The chicken butts there? I bought two skewers, one each for myself and my sister. After the first bite we were wondering why we’d only bought one skewer each.

As you can (or can’t) see from the picture, these little butts weren’t all that little. In fact, they were the biggest ones we’ve found so far during this trip to Taiwan.

The taste? Almost as good as what we remembered from our childhood…and that’s pretty damn good. Definitely the best ones we’ve had so far while here – and to think that it’d been only a 15 minute walk away from home!

Baked and then fried, it had a light crunchy crust before tender flesh greeted your teeth afterwards. The seasoning was just right, enough that you could taste it but not so much that it was overpowering. The best part? All its little bits were still intact…including the bones.

So what was the point of this post? Besides my showing off a program I slaved over to perfect…let’s just say that when you come to Taiwan, visiting the night markets are a must.

~ AJ ~

Photographs taken and provided by AnnMarie and Jasmine Hwang

2 Comments

  1. Aug-20-2010

    Wow! All I can say is that i can imagine u being one of those people on tv who goes around the world exploring the food out there. Good job! :)

  2. Aug-23-2010

    lol @ chicken butts, those are pretty big :p

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