I thought Taiwanese didn’t like it sweet.

18 07 2009

Choco 1Dunkin’ Donuts went under in Taiwan not once, but twice. Mister Donut changed his recipes to cater to local tastes. Krispy Kreme never even made it here.

Taiwanese people often complain that American food is too sweet. So can somebody explain dishes like “pineapple shrimp balls” (鳳梨蝦球): deep fried shrimp balls and pineapple chunks coated in sweet mayo and topped with (oh-no-they-didn’t!) colorful sprinkles?

Sweetness (甜) is one of the four flavors that people in Taiwan use to describe both food and life. But for a culture that doesn’t view dessert as the logical end to every meal, sweetness often pops up when you least expect it.

Taiwan Choco BallThat doesn’t mean there are no sweet desserts in Taiwan.

Take the “Taiwan Choco Ball”, for example, with it’s distinctly non-Taiwanese flavor and overwhelming sweetness. It’s made up of four layers: chocolate, strawberry mochi (made from glutinous rice), marshmallow, and strawberry jam. And boy, is that little sucker SWEET. Like, I-want-to-suck-on-a-lemon sweet.

Yuting + AerialIn the latest edition of Feast Meets West, Ellen and I look at the way “sweet” is used to describe food and life in Taiwan. We also sample not just Taiwan Choco Balls, but also a slightly healthier way to get your sugar fix: Taiwanese pineapples.

You’ll also want to listen to the end of the program to find out why it’s a bad idea to eat fruit for dessert.

Oh yeah, and you’ll also meet our two sweet new summer interns: (pictured, L to R) Yuting and Aerial. Welcome on board, guys!

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5 responses

18 07 2009
Michael Stevenson

This just looks great those Choco Balls, wow, would love to try some, guess I will have to travel to Taiwan’s Jewel in Taipei to sample the sweetness of Taiwan!

18 07 2009
Maggie

“But for a culture that doesn’t view dessert as the logical end to every meal, sweetness often pops up when you least expect it.”
I like the way you put it! My favorite “sweet surprise” is a deep-fried taro ball I once had back home. It’s creamy, thick, and of course sweet! yum!

18 07 2009
Angelica

I think whether or not a food item is deemed “too sweet” is expectations that are cultural-specific and item specific. For instance, white bread here is disturbingly sweet to many westerners. I would say though, that people drink a lot less soda here and although most of the beverages are sweetened, there is a much wider range of unsweetened and lightly sweetened options.

19 07 2009
Brad Arsenault

Yeah! What’s up with that? From time to time I’ve presented co-workers with sweet treats from home only to be confronted with a bunch of squishy faces and complaints that my chocolate brownies are too sweet. Only to be Presented a week later with some local sweet dish that has a sweet factor close to my brownies. Let’s not forget the various summer sweet drinks made with beans and sugar. Admittedly, I love that wonderful cold dish of green beans, water and sugar. But it really doesn’t have flavor. It’s really just a sweet sludgy green drink. But I like it!

Looking forward to the next Feast Meets West blog log. Cheers.

29 01 2010
I thought Taiwanese didn't like it sweet?! | Hear in Taiwan

[…] Read the full post on the Feast Meets West blog. […]

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