May 22, 2013

Dreaming about Beef Noodles

Beef Noodles - so Important there is a competition

Century eggs and other side dishes -
Side dishes served with the beef noodles
I had, long before I finally ended up going to Taiwan for the first time, heard about the fantastic food, and the pride the people take in cooking and eating well. That may even have been one of the reasons I decided was the right country for me in the first place...

One of the dishes I especially had heard about was beef noodles.
Beef noodles may not be part of the original Taiwanese cuisine, if there is such a thing as pure Taiwanese cuisine; For hundreds, or even thousands of years people have migrated through this area, everyone bringing their own flavours and their own habits with them.   A part of the population have their roots in China, both China well before Mao and those who came after Mao took over power in the 1940-ies, but there are a lot of people with their roots elsewhere, not the least the aboriginee population. This makes for a very interesting mix, foodwise!

 With Taiwan being an island seafood is very common, that there is a fair amount of vegetarian dishes - and a lot of chicken.  It is far easier to transport chicken and hens than fully grown cows. So no wonder beef is less common than chicken.

But never the less the beef noodles are immensely popular in Taiwan, and every year there are competitions - who makes the best beef noodles. Taiwanese people travel around the country or at least the city to find the best beef noodles - once you have a favourite you often stick with that shop, or stall.

When I was visiting Taiwan I went with friends to the excellent food market in the train station, and we found a place that took great pride in their priced noodles, a place who came high on the noodle rating scale. Recently I have been dreaming about them! With the beef noodles came great side dishes: Century eggs (the see-through eggs on the picture), pickled cucumber, other pickles - you can't have Taiwanese food without side dishes!

Beef Noodles in Taiwan -
Beef noodles. The other style.
When I told another Taiwanese friend that I had beef noodles in the Main station in Taipei (臺北), it was almost as if I had insulted him though, by going to another beef noodle place than the one the family prefers, and I had to come with the family to try their favourite place too.

Not that I minded...  Would I ever mind going to yet another good place for food? The family favourite was a small hole in the wall, a small place with a lot of guests, all coming for the food, not for the location.

And the noodles were fantastic. I have never gone wrong with Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, regardless of the variant - different type of beef noodles, so maybe they shouldn't even be compared, all  delicious, all very tasty.

If you can convince a Taiwanese to try a new place when he/she have a favourite, you are very skilled though; The Taiwanese - 臺灣人 (Taiwan ren) are very specific about their food; Once  they have found a favourite, they stick to that - and in a way I can understand them; I am probably partly Taiwanese, I do the same with my coffee and with my ice cream in Düsseldorf, it takes a lot for me to have ice cream in a different shop, as I know mine will be "the best", even if I logically know that others may make good ice cream too... Or so I am told...

I guess I may be partly Taiwanese after all, without realising it...

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