I didn’t know I would have the honor of meeting Mr. Chen, purveyor of the ShiDong Beef House, yesterday. In fact, I think I surprised him when I began asking questions about the meat in his chiller and the cowbell hanging from the ceiling at the ShiDong Market. But once he got started, he was on fire.
We wandered around the fresh food market, located (appropriately) in the ShiDong neighborhood, on ShiDong Road, as an introduction to how many Taiwanese housewives buy food–locally, daily and fresh. My wonderful host (and the planner/facilitator of my schedule here in Taiwan) Ms. Sandia Lee, of the Eisenhower Fellows Association in the Republic of China, took us there. She didn’t expect to get into a lively conversation about beef, either.But, as we wandered through the fresh veggies, live fish tanks and live pens of chickens (I promise I didn’t touch any chickens, mom. And I held my breath as we walked by), we came across a fresh beef case. And there I found Mr. Chen, and the beef checkoff logo, plain as day, on a package of what was obviously sliced, prime beef. So, I asked him, “Excuse me, sir, where did you get that U.S. beef?”
And we were off to the races.
He talked for about five minutes straight, while Sandia valiantly tried to wait for him to breathe, so she could translate. I leaned over to her and whispered, “I’m dying to know what he is saying!” She grinned.
This went on for quite a while. Mr. Chen had a lot to say. And I loved every minute.
He talked about the consistent quality of U.S. beef, especially when compared to our competitors (can you guess who our competitors are, dear readers? If you’ve been following along, you know them from our previous posts). He talked about U.S. quality grade, availability, price (oh yes, he talked a LOT about price). He talked about how U.S.beef is so good, restaurants will mix U.S. beef fat trimming with Australian lean, to make it taste better (What a great idea! Hey, McDonald’s, have you ever thought of that?!). He talked about how that wasn’t fair, because he couldn’t do that in his shop! And…finally..he talked about beta agonists.
Sandia looked slightly distressed at his words, and looked up the translation of beta agonists on her smart phone. I nodded and smiled. “No worries. I wondered when he would get to that,” I told her.
Turns out, he was grateful that the our governments worked through establishment of an MRL (although he didn’t call it that) and he hoped that the supply would be better. And, he added once more for emphasis, the price would come down!
Thank you, Mr. Chen for making my first day studying beef in Taiwan interesting and lively. Thank you for your honesty, your patience and for your passion about beef–U.S. beef, of course.
From the ShiDong market, we moved to the Night Market, where you can buy anything. I mean it, the huge market sells everything–from shoes to underwear to all manner of meat on sticks, dumplings, soup, fried chicken, fresh fruit cups, Polish cake, and lots of other foods I didn’t recognize. We perused what seemed like hundreds of food stalls, and made our selections from supper. Unfortunately, I didn’t get many photos, mainly because it was too dark, but also because there were so many people, I couldn’t get my camera out of my pocket. Just kidding, but there were a LOT of people there! And on the train back to the hotel!A Plug for the National Palace Museum
The overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911 set the stage for the formal establishment of the Republic of China in the following year. Based on the principles of democracy, the possessions acquired by the imperial family went public to be shared by all. This set the stage for the establishment of the National Palace Museum, located inside the Forbidden City in Taipei. The museum itself has a rich history, too detailed to copy here, which I encourage you to research a bit if you have time. A knowledgeable tour guide arranged by EF Fellows Association brought the museum to life for us, as we wandered among the roughly 2,000 pieces the museum has room to display, out of more than 690,000 pieces in total. We spent about two hours on the tour, and had to move along to other locations, but if you visit here, please leave at least a day to look at the treasures here. From the Bronze Age to recent history, the collection will amaze you. We saw an 8,000-year-old necklace, priceless delft blue Ru Ware, Ming ceramics and so much more.
Random photos of the day: