Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eating My Way Through Taiwan: Pot Lucks

Every Sunday afternoon we participate in a Pot Luck. Actually, they're fellowships for our church. We started them when we realized that relationships were only taking place between in one direction. Everyone in the church has a relationship with me and my family, but relationships between the people in the church not so much. People would come to church and leave right afterwards, they never got together outside of church. So we decided to use food as a way to gather people. It turned out to be a delicious and successful method. I will always opt to have food-related activities over almost any other kind. In Riverside we had pot lucks, also. They were exciting forays in to Mexican cuisine, by some of the best Mexican cooks I know. Now we are venturing into Taiwanese and Chinese specialties by some of the best Chinese cooks I know. So here is a look at last Sunday's menu:

These are the main dishes. On these platters you will see, clockwise from the top left: Sweet and Sour Fish, this is like Sweet and Sour Pork using white fish. I'm guessing it's Tilapia. Next is To Gan This is like To Fu but it has more consistancy and smoky flavor. Next is kelp. This one is marinated in a vinegarette. Then we have Xiao Long Bao, these are pork dumplings, pork mixed with herbs and spices and steamed in dough.

This is Squash in a nice sauce. It is quite flavorful. I've found, generally, that vegetables an fruits have much more taste here than in the US. I think it's because they are not grown on huge farms but small local farms. As when you grow them at home they have much more flavor than store-bought ones. Fruit and vegetables in Taiwan are excellent.

This is muchrooms, and shrimp with rice noodles. I can eat this over and over and not get enough. The noodles are interesting because they have a little snap to them when you bite them. They're not like Pasta that kind of melts in your mouth you really have to chew them. Awesome!

Cucumbers with a vinegarette dressing. It's served cold and is very refreshing. It gets hot and humid here and a nice cold moist vegetable like this is the answer to the heat wave.

Purple and white Dragon Fruit. Both served well chilled are very good. I've found the purple Dragon Fruit is the best flavor. The white one is kind of tasteless. They have the consistency of pears.

So there you have it. Quite a nice meal. Most of the food is homemade, but some people get food at the local restaurants. It is cheaper, many times, to buy food at a local restaurant then to try to make it yourself. Often, my whole family can eat a full meal for $240 NTD (about $7.00 USD). Our friend Helen, cooks different foods for us to try, and she is an excellent cook. Everyone looks to see what she's bringing to decide if they want to stay or not. I don't have to look, I know whatever she makes is going to be good.

I've read that over and I'm not much of a food critic. Critic implies that there will be a criticism. I never criticize food, I digest it.

Photo Credits: Emily & Elizabeth Banducci

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