What is Taiwan’s food culture? Most people probably immediately think of night markets or comfort food. Even locals from different backgrounds or generations may have varying opinions about this particular topic.
Taiwan’s complicated history and unique geography have greatly influenced its food culture. She has more than 20 microclimates including fresh and salt waters, mountains, valleys and plains. Taiwan also has developed agriculture and aquaculture techniques that yield abundant varieties of local produce. The diversity of cooking styles and flavors brought here by waves of immigrants starting from the 17th century have expanded the offerings of international cuisines here as well.
In recent years, the global “local food movement” trend has also taken hold in Taiwan. A growing number of restaurants opened by world class chefs are offering “farm to table’ dining in both casual and upscale environments. However, this concept of using local fresh and natural ingredients has always been the basis of Taiwan’s Indigenous cuisine. How well does Taiwan balance the traditional with the new? Indigenous with International? Is there such a thing as Authentic Taiwanese Cuisine?
This is something that Katy Hui-Wen Hung, co-author of her upcoming book: A Culinary History of Taipei-Beyond Pork and Ponlai, can perhaps help in satisfying some curious minds. She will share some stories of her two year journey exploring and experiencing the food culture of Taiwan.