During Christmas party, a newly wed couple told me about their upcoming foodie adventure to experience soup dumplings in Chinatown. Besides giving them some of my recommendations, this topic has lit my creative fire… I went on to tell them about Taiwan, where I came from… I said,
“If you want good Chinese food, go to Taiwan… Once you are there, you could eat your way–north to south, top to bottom–no kidding! Because… ”
I then briefly told the history of Taiwan and why such a small island about the size of New Jersey has a variety of Chinese cuisine. Later, as I reminisce the conversation, I decided to write it down and craft it better, here:
Between 1895 and 1945, Taiwan was ruled by the Empirial Japan. The Japanese built infrastructure and economy in Taiwan, to setup foundation for its intended expansion plan. At the time, native Taiwanese were deemed as savages and slaves by the Japanese. They had to learn the Japanese culture and traditions in order to survive.
At the end of Sino-Japan War in 1945, Japan surrendered Taiwan to the ROC (The Republic of China,) ruled by the KMT Party (Kuo Ming Tang.) When the Communist Mao took over KMT-ruled China, KMT exiled and settled in Taiwan. The KMT people, composed of mostly educated and talented aristocrats from all over Mainland, brought with them their knowledge, culture and traditions. They set up businesses over the Japanese infrastructure; shops, restaurants, spawned all over Taiwan…
Today, Taiwan has become a great cultural hub, that incompasses a variety of Chinese cuisines, music, arts and crafts, with occasional Japanese flare. People there are friendly and welcoming. In my childhood memories, I always recall seeing one or two westerners walking down the streets of Taipei City, with smiles on their faces… Because we smile at them.
Here is my favorite Taiwan tourism video on YouTube: