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Being a vegetarian is not easy in many places, it became a challenge when you are in a place where you don’t understand the language. However, I like to think of it as part of the adventure that is to know new cultures, get out of the comfort zone and pass some fun moments.
In the first few days there, as at other times, I was lucky enough to have a local person accompanying me to the right places. One of them was vegan (Thanks, Ida), which helped a lot. She always ordered my food and sometimes I did not even know what I was eating. haha
Being open to new experiences such as these enrich not only our culture but also introduce us new flavors and options of food. Many friends have commented that they do not eat different food and I’m sorry for them. So let’s go the first cultural difference.
No onion, garlic, ginger and other vegetables for vegetarians! WHAT?
The first time I heard this was a shock to me. We were at TGIF in Taichung and I made a request, even reading the request a few times before ordering, I have the habit of confirming with the attendant if the option is really vegetarian. The answer was no. Everyone at the table started to read the option again and there was nothing that was not vegetarian there. We asked what was not vegetarian and the response was: GARLIC! I laughed and asked anyway, but everyone did not understand anything!
I was so curious about this episode that I started to research about it. The question is related to the East Asian Buddhist religion. This religion is against the death of plants. And ingredients like potato, carrot, ginger among others are actually the root. That is, once you remove it from the ground the plant ceases to exist. Interesting, right?
I know that many find that garlic and onion are the ingredients that give flavor to food, and in fact it is. However, there are other flavors and I would say that the food I ate there was very tasty.
A good and safe restaurant
The best thing about going to a vegetarian restaurant is knowing that you can choose anything from the menu without bothering to read ingredient by ingredient. And reading everything can be an impossible task when you do not speak the local language.
Sufood is a restaurant chain spread all over the island of Taiwan. The ambiance of the restaurant is great, there are several options to choose from. The service is very good and the waiters speak English.
The rice ball (紫米飯糰) – My favorite option
It was morning and a friend gave me something dark and strange and said, ‘This is your breakfast, eat it while it’s hot. I’m going to a meeting. ‘ When she saw my expression of ‘What is it for the love of God?’ she stopped and opened the same food she had and said, ‘It’s rice and stuffed’. I honestly had never seen anything like it before and it had a weird texture.
Luckily I ate the rice ball. One of the best things I’ve eaten in Asia – and I’m considering a few other countries and not just Taiwan. The ball is made of black rice, which I already love, and stuffed with black pepper, mushroom powder, soybeans, peanuts, egg and many other things. The taste is INCREDIBLE. I really wish I had a store where I could buy it near my house!
Not only good surprises are made a trip! A big no for that egg soup. Guys, come on, EGG soup *? Seriously? The food arrived and no one told me what it was made of, so I start eating it. I hated it! After that, I was in one of those moments of life where you need to decide between doing something you don’t want do to be polite OR say you hated -politely, something like ‘It is not suitable for my taste’ – and refuse something someone gave to you.
I started with the first option, eating to be polite, but I could not get very far. So, I asked what was it and they said: Egg soup. That was it! and I gave up.
I don’t even know how to describe it, it was like water and egg. Take your chances and tried it if you dare, you might enjoy it, you never know if you don’t try!
Every morning, I had something a new food to try. My friend always arrived at the office with a bag full of treats.
I remember breaking instant noodles and adding the flavor to eat it raw when I was a child/teenager. It tastes great, but, obviously, it’s terrible to your stomach. I also remember my mom getting crazy about this. Well, this is not a problem in Taiwan once you can find it in small packs on sale at the supermarket.
Another good surprise of the trip was the spicy seaweed. It comes in individual packs, very crispy and very tasty. According to my friend this food is full of vitamin B12, something not easily found on vegetarian food.
Engagement cake – Xibing, 喜餅
After learning that I got engaged, my friend gave mean engagement cake. The round cake stuffed with sweet made of bean is a tradition in Taiwan and China and is given to the bride by friends and family.
The gift message is in the gift package and the symbol printed on the cake. In the case of my cake, as you can see in the photograph, it is the symbol of happiness. It is also accompanied by a couple. So cute!
All tea combination possible
The Taiwanese love iced tea and they have a huge variety of drink. For someone who lives in the place that tea is only black tea, hot and with milk was interesting to choose from so much interesting combination.
Tea with Yakult – Honestly it was not my order, but as soon as my friend said that her tea was with yakult I must have made a beggar’s face because she exchanged with me straight away! 500ml of yakult it was heaven!
Tea with gelatin balls – The vast majority of teas have some balls inside and are very refreshing.
Tea with Pudding – I ordered this tea because honestly, tea pudding ?! How can we not prove something so unusual? I thought it would be a pudding blended in the tea. My mistake, it was an entire pudding inside the tea. Sometimes the straw would clog because it had a whole piece of pudding coming. Imagine the strength you had to do when it happened 😂 Tastes great tho
While in Taiwan do as the Taiwanese do
My trip ‘philosophy’ is to live as close to local customs as possible. We used to have lunch at the restaurant every day, and I noticed that the other employees of the company ate some boxes at the office. So I asked to eat the same food.
It was the first time I visited the factory canteen and saw how have lunch daily. The place is great, the food was very good, so much so that I ate for two days. After eating they take a nap and a siren announces when lunch time is over.
Other random options
Some random foods that I have tried in restaurants and in the hotel.
Something I really liked and deserves your attention is the Naisu souce. The texture is similar to butter, but in fact, it is coconut paste. The other ones are noodles, omelet with tomato sauce, pickled bamboo
Oh well, not sure about you but I get very happy when I found something from my birth country (Brazil) in a place as far as Taiwan.
It’s is vegetarian right? hahaha So here it goes.
*Chachaça is a Brazilan alcohol drink used to make drinks as caipirinha. YUMMY!
See ya 🙂
*I’m vegetarian and not vegan!