Most Important Meal

Taiwan breakfast overview photo

Experts say skipping breakfast encourages weight gain and may make you sluggish all day. It’s called “the most important meal of the day.” I like it because it’s another excuse to drink excellent tea.

I think the experts have been talking to folk in Taiwan, actually. Breakfast is a big deal here. And happily, beef fits right in with traditional dishes, offering a nutritional boost to carb-heavy breakfasts, and yet another opportunity for beef market growth.

Every morning, vendors awake way before dawn to prepare handmade, fresh food for the morning rush. Some open actual storefronts, but many set up on the street. In Taipei, office workers rush by, stuff a hot, freshly made dumpling, bread pocket, twisted cruller or omelet in either mouth or pocket and head to work. Emphasis: speed, but the food? Fantastic. Crispy breads, filled with goodies and baked with sesame seeds on top. Fragrant dumplings, filled with savory meat. Fresh, sweet fruit. And the omnipresent cruller, crunchy and flaky.

“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.” ~ Steven Wright

This differs slightly in the southern part of the country, where the large manual labor population needs a filling, hot breakfast that will get them through until lunch. Often, this is a thick, rich soup filled with goodies, which can include meat. Breakfast all over the island usually also includes soy milk or porridge.

If we’re seeking ways to encourage Taiwanese to include additional servings of nutritious beef into their diets, breakfast is a no-brainer. Pass the flavored congee, I’m hungry.

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Industrial-sized steamers for dumplings outside a breakfast shop in Kaohsiung.

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Rich soup with homemade noodles.

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Sesame bread pockets filled with peanut butter and other goodies. Some are sweet, and some, savory–but all freshly made.

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Hot omelets, from fresh eggs.

For more great info, check out this slide show.

(Not so) Random Photo of the Day:

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CNN called them “the world’s most revolting food” but let’s get serious, in a historically protein-deficient country that relies on eggs for balanced nutrition, someone exercised creativity when she thought of this preservation method (it had to be a woman, didn’t it). Pictured is a “Century Egg” — a duck, quail or chicken egg preserved by soaking in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months. The process turns the yolk an indescribable black-green color and the egg white looks like dark-colored jello. It smells kind of odd, but not as bad as stinky tofu (which will make you run the other direction!) Outside, the shell is a slightly speckled color, giving no real hint to what’s inside, unless you know what’s coming. I couldn’t bring myself to try this one–although it’s the first thing (OK, the second, I couldn’t try the stinky tofu either) I’ve gracefully (at least I tried to be graceful…I’m afraid the look on my face when she sliced the egg open may have given me away) declined on my entire trip.

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