Taiwanese cuisine is diverse and influenced by various cultures such as Chinese, Japanese, and indigenous Taiwanese cuisine. Here are some common dishes and ingredients found in the Taiwanese diet:
Rice: Rice is a staple in Taiwanese cuisine and is often served with every meal. It is usually steamed and served plain, or flavored with soy sauce, garlic, or other seasonings.
Noodles: Noodles are another popular staple in Taiwanese cuisine. They are often served in soups or stir-fried dishes and can be made from various ingredients such as wheat, rice, or sweet potato starch.
Seafood: Taiwan is an island nation, so seafood is a common ingredient in many Taiwanese dishes. Popular seafood dishes include shrimp, squid, and fish, which are often grilled, fried, or stir-fried.
Dumplings: Dumplings are a popular snack and meal in Taiwan. They can be filled with various ingredients such as pork, vegetables, or seafood and are often served steamed or fried.
Baozi: Baozi, or steamed buns, are another popular snack and meal in Taiwan. They can be filled with various ingredients such as pork, beef, or vegetables.
Beef Noodle Soup: Beef noodle soup is a signature dish in Taiwanese cuisine. It consists of tender beef, noodles, and vegetables in a flavorful broth.
Night Market Snacks: Taiwan is famous for its night markets, which offer a variety of unique and delicious snacks such as stinky tofu, oyster omelets, and bubble tea.
Mealtime customs in Taiwan:
Sharing Food: One of the most important customs in Taiwanese mealtime is sharing food. Dishes are usually placed in the center of the table, and everyone takes a small portion of each dish to share. This is seen as a way to promote community and togetherness.
Using Chopsticks: Chopsticks are the primary utensils used in Taiwan for eating. It is considered rude to point with chopsticks or to leave them standing upright in a bowl of rice. It is also customary to hold the bowl close to your mouth when eating, rather than using a fork or spoon. When setting down chopsticks between courses, never place them in the rice bowl vertically or at an angle as this resembles sticks of incense burned at a funeral and is considered highly inauspicious. Always lie chopsticks horizontally across the rim of the bowl.
Tea: Tea is often served with meals in Taiwan, and it is customary to pour tea for others before pouring it for yourself. It is also polite to tap the table with two fingers to show gratitude when someone pours tea for you.
Refusing Food: In Taiwan, it is considered impolite to refuse food that is offered to you, especially if it is a traditional dish. It is better to accept the food and try a small portion, even if you don't like it.
Complimenting the Host: After the meal, it is customary to thank the host and compliment the food. It is also common for the host to insist on cleaning up and washing the dishes, while guests chat and relax.
Avoiding Waste: In Taiwan, wasting food is considered disrespectful. It is best to take small portions of each dish and to eat everything on your plate. If you cannot finish a dish, it is polite to ask the host to take it home or to offer it to someone else.