Food haven, why skinny people?

It is a small island with twenty three millions people.  It is prosperous; It is busy and crowded than ever. And yet I was surprised to witness order and discipline among expected chaos.
Everyday is Black Friday
Taiwan is an updated and upgraded version of Hong Kong, full of industrious people and thriving enterprises and small businesses. Population density is outrageous. Traffic flow in the streets and inside the stores is heavy, in haste and horrendous.

Crowded but Orderly

MRT are packed with people during school and business hours. I have wondered how we survived in the past when subway transportation system was not established.  I was jammed and squeezed in bus going to school and now subway back home visiting.

However, I did not feel the pressure and turmoil that I was experienced as a student.  I went with the flow in and out of subway effortlessly. The subway train is very clean, fast and punctual. Most of the time, I got to sit down though I don’t particularly want to admit that I am the older and weaker among the crowd.  Young people are staring at their smartphones while older ones are taking their naps. It is very quiet, not noisy at all. People whisper if they are having a conversation.

Out of train, mess crowd instantly walked towards their exits, scanned their plastic tickets and vanished in minutes before the next crowd comes in. I have followed this routine for two weeks and was good at it. There are lots of walking and so exercise involved being MRT commuters. I realized why Asians consume lots of noodles and still remain skinny. In hole-in-the-wall places, it takes only about 20 minutes for you to go in, be served, have your meal and get out. If you go to a hot spot, people are already waiting in the line to get in, you have to give back your seats soonest you can.
So many choices, what’s next?

If you want to enjoy a relaxed dinner, Western restaurant is the best bet, otherwise, find a more upscale Chinese restaurant. Taiwanese buffets are incredible. Our hometown buffets here are simply no comparison. I am not bragging if I say 100 different dishes for you to choose from. On top of that, many of them are cooked right in front of you, fresh and delicious.

best sushi to die for

Check out the sushi counter with at least ten varieties, all clearly marked with wasabi saucer lined up ready to go, very efficient.  Vast consumption and fast turn-around result in absolutely the freshest food supply.
I was treated in one of the most popular buffets twice, and I did not even finish browsing all the food served. The great variety makes you wonder where should you go next. I did not want to be out of control though I have been so deprived of authentic Chinese food living in Oregon. There are only three small Asian grocery stores in Eugene. Majority of the food is either canned, frozen or shipped from somewhere else. I often brought home ‘fresh’ noodle or cake with moles. I cannot get right materials to make authentic Chinese food. American-Chinese fusion food is what I make. I am glad that cooking is not my most favorite thing to do, so I don’t feel too bad.

Not sure since when, new branded pastry and goodie stores are rising in the marketplace like snow flakes. I do not have to mention how good they are. I brought back a fancy box of Aunt Stella handmade cookies. Out of total 40 cookies, the man in my house consumed 34. It seems to be a lot, but the cookies are very thin, only half size or less of our homemade cookies. Interesting enough, I discovered that Aunt Stella cookie was created by an American Joseph Dunkle who went with US military to Japan in 1969 and made it a household name there since 1982. Mrs. Fields cookies are more popular here. I have to say it is because the cookies are thicker and larger and that’s what people want here. Price can be another factor.

In a small adjacent area about 2000 sqft, there are eight best brands of various goodies. They are tempting but truly I like their packaging more than anything. I am paying $0.05-0.10 home for a plain brown bag, but these stores are giving out fancy carry-in bags for free.

Branded Goodie Corner

Next, Please
One mid-sized bakery has five cashiers plus one mobile person to stream the lines. All of them wear uniforms, keep their hairdo up in caps, wear masks and gloves. They are food serving professionals.
For a long time, I don’t count the changes given back from Asian cashiers. They are too fast and so accurate. If I intend to count, I would block the next customer.
I cannot blame them to work so fast-paced.  If they don’t, the line will trail and circle around. You may have experienced that Asian clerks tend to be quieter, straighter and anxious to get the job done, no bull shit.  This is why.  There is no time for nonsense and casual talks. One ‘how are you today?’ will make another customer wait for 3 more minutes. Rationalize that.
Yum Yam
It seems unforgivable to talk about sweet potato when we are still struggling to finish Thanksgiving left overs. But I like this pot so much and some facts about sweet potatoes are worth knowing.
Inside the pot is yam. They are slowly-roasted and the best you can ever have. Someone actually custom made an clay pot just to store roasted yam, can you imagine how popular it is? The large word means ‘roast’, the words inside the square is ‘yam’ and the tiny word upper right addresses ‘flavor’. The wood lid and roped bottom make it even more classic.
Sweet Potato and yam are all vegetables but not related. Sweet potato grows in US while Yam is from Asia or Africa. However, they are both loaded with nutritions that we commonly overlooked.  Most of people think starchy vegetables make you gain weight. In fact they are both low in calories, rich in potassium, magnesium fiber and trace minerals. Sweet potato has abundant vitamin A also E. Yam has Vitamin C and B6. From nutrition viewpoint, Sweet potato scores even higher than Yam.

open longer, work harder

The girls working in hotel reception are so thin and elegantly gestured. They are so fit that they make me feeling jealous. How can they live in this food haven, consume so much noodle and gourmet food and still stay in such great shape?  I think there is definitely something to do with Asian diet and how people live their daily lives.

Just like in Hong Kong, noodle shops are everywhere in Taiwan. Often times you see people eating big bowl of steaming noodle soup. You may think, wow, how many calories are in there?  In fact, a noodle soup contains mostly water, lots of vegetable, probably 1/3 is noodle and a few small slices of meat. If it is not that famous Taiwanese beef noodle soup, meat consumption is very low. Here in Oregon, many know Vietnamese beef noodle (pho) soup, Korean Bibimbap rice bowl and Thai food, but I believe very few have tasted authentic Chinese food and Taiwanese noodle soup. If we say Vietnamese beef pho resembles Starbucks’ latte, then Taiwanese beef noodle soup is a carmel brulee latte, a fancy version, fun and utterly delicious.

Pastry and steamed buns are popular, but pastry size is usually small and steamed buns have lots of vegetable inside with very little ground meat. Steam buns sold in US China towns are mostly stuffed with barbecue pork to cater American’s sweet mouth taste, so half meat and half bread are what’s consumed here. Over there, people eat buns with approximately 1/3 bread, 1/3+ vegetable and 1/3- meat.  Food items are smaller and more delicate there, but bigger and bolder here.

The other big impact on a skinny body is heavy, fast and constant walking. It is tough to find parking in the city. MRT subway is primary commute tool and therefore tremendous amount of fast walking becomes mandatory on daily base. I would say, the calories gained from a bowl of noodle soup can be burnt out in one day walk that I was experienced. For us who live here, we drive to work and play. Parking is easy. Life is easy. Pace is slower and our body is not put to work as hard while food intake is larger and the diet is higher in fat and calories.

In case you have been wondering why Asians are mostly hard-working, straight-forward, practical, fast, efficient and brief (very little time for bull shit) and why they are so skinny…..

End of the day, good food is great, I like to enjoy it when opportunity comes. Nature is what I really desire and where my heart is. I step on my regular walk path and breathe in the cold chill, it is rejuvenating. Nothing is like home where I find my comfort zone.

I call this Home

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