Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Feature: Finding a vegetarian restaurant/store (part I)

YJH sends the following list (Chinese-language postings):

vegetarian stores

other vegetarian stores in Taipei

vegetarian stores in other cities



Restaurant Review: -- Fulong Railway Lunchbox (Fulong, New Taipei City)

Chishang (池上) in Taitung County (台東), Alishan (阿里山) in Chiayi County (嘉義), but most of all Fulong (福隆) in the old Taipei County are all famed for their railway lunch boxes. Originally (and still) sold to passengers from the station platforms, these towns also now have lunch box restaurants in the nearby streets, and indeed, there are Fulong and Chishang lunch box providers in neighbouring towns and further afield.

Having tried and failed to purchase a vegetarian lunch box on the platform, NOMM bought one from the nearest store, at No.5 Fulong St. (福隆街).

The omens looked good, there was even a sign taped to the counter listing the ingredients, and translated into English by the owner's daughter.

The vegetarian version listed "rice, marinated dried tofu, cabbage, dried radish, seaweed, marinated gluten, vegetarian ham, pickled cabbage, corn, carrot, potato, bean" all for NT$55.

NOMM passed on the vegetarian ham and was rewarded with an extra portion of vegetables.

Here ended the good news. The food was gross. Perhaps walking further from the station might work, but when NOMM tried this, we were asked, "Do you mind if the vegetables are cooked in lard?"

Perhaps a packed lunch is advisable for a day at the beach.

                                                   Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

News Brief: Fruit price becomes election issue

The real problem with the nation’s agricultural sector is an imbalance between supply and demand and the government’s inability to resolve the matter, Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party said yesterday, the Taipei Times reports (full article here).

The latest spat between political parties was initiated by a fall in the price of persimmons, but using a calendar printed with a dozen types of locally grown fruits that have plunged in price this year, the DPP accused Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) government of incompetance.
Ma had earlier said that the DPP was citing incorrect information to mislead the public ahead of next year’s presidential and legislative elections.

But the DDP said prices for guavas in Changhua (彰化), longans in Taichung (台中) and Nantou (南投), persimmons in Taitung (台東), as well as tangerines in Yunlin (雲林) had all fallen.

The real issue was not the price paid by shoppers in markets (as quoted by Ma), but the price that growers obtained, and the comparison of that price with their costs of production, DPP spokesperson Kang Yu-cheng (康裕成) said during a press conference.

The DPP caucus called on Ma to tackle the supply imbalance problem immediately and adopt a “95 percent mechanism” in which the government would purchase farm produce at 95 percent of the production cost whenever the selling price fell below specific prices monitored by the government.

Fruit imports from China between January and last month showed a 71 percent increase in comparison with the same period last year, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said, adding that the drop in prices could be because of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between Taiwan and China in June last year.

Text and photos copyright Taipei Times

News Brief: McDonald's goes vegetarian (for 5 days on 3 items in 1 town)

To stay open during a local town-wide vegetarian festival, McDonald’s sells vegetarian food, TVBS reports today (full Chinese-article here)

For 5 days every 12 years, the 90,000 citizens Puli (埔里) Township in Nantou (南投) County hold the jian jiao ji dian (建醮祭典) religious ceremony [to welcome, entertain and bid farewell to visiting spirits].

Although not all citizens strictly adhere to the spirit of vegetarianism, so many take it seriously that meat and fish vendors in the markets suspend business for five days, as do owners of non-vegetarian restaurants.

To "accord with" this local custom, McDonald’s, from Nov 27 to Dec 1, while not suspending or curbing its burger menu, is offering residents of Puli vegetarian options. These include “bagels with jam”, French fries and hash brown potatoes. All cooked, during this period, in vegetable oil. 

A “meal” [NOMM’s emphasis] consisting of bagel, hash brown and fizzy drink costs NT$65.

                                              Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Saturday, 26 November 2011

News Brief: Beware tea bags but more so tags - Government Agency

While tea bags and spice pouches meet legal standards with regard to leaching of chemicals, it perhaps time to change the regulations relating to food packaging, the Consumer Protection Commission (消費者保護委員會) claimed yesterday, the Taipei Times reports today (full article here).

The semi-independent central-government agency tested 30 items, all of which accorded with the “Sanitation Standards for Food and Utensil Packaging.” Nevertheless, the CPC suggested that worries remained, partly because 22 items used plastic packaging and only 8 used paper, but more so because the standards do not reflect Taiwanese cooking habits. Current legislation for plastic packaging stipulates cooking times of 30 minutes at 95 or 60 minutes at 25. Many Taiwanese dishes are cooked for hours, however, the Commission noted.

A further concern related to the tags attached to tea bags and spice pouches, which are not counted as part of the packaging. Tests for these tags showed levels of potassium permanganate that exceeded the limits stipulated by the legal standards. Users should make sure to avoid dipping the tags in water when drinking coffee and tea, the CPC warned.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

News Brief: Avoid raw food - doctor

Following prevalence of salmonella (沙門氏桿菌) in coastal areas, Taiwanese consumers are advised not to eat uncooked foods, the Broadcasting Corporation of China (中國廣播公司) reports today (full Chinese-language article here). These include Japanese-style sashimi, live-cooked prawns, raw poultry eggs, turtle blood, and even raw vegetables. Water should also be boiled properly before being drunk.

People with swollen limbs or persistent fevers should consult their doctors.

                                                                              Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Monday, 21 November 2011

News Brief: Eat more snacks to stay slim

Normal weight adults, including those who had lost a lot of weight and kept it off, ate more often than overweight people in a new study looking at factors that may help in preventing weight gain, local media report under the headline “Worried about being overweight? Eat More Snacks!”(full Chinese-language article here)  picking up on a Reuters story from last Friday (here).

News Brief: hot, strong tea can cause cancer - herbal doctor

Acknowledging that drinking tea can help suppress cancer, traditional Chinese medical practitioner Hsu Rui-hsiang (許瑞香) told a symposium that drinking it hot can increase the risk of getting cancer, the TW News reported last Friday (full Chinese-language article here). 

Hsu said that tea leaves are by nature “cooling” and possess a bittersweet taste, and by containing selenium can help remove free radicals from the body. Green tea is by nature “neutral” and by taste “sweet”, and its polyphenols can suppress cancer, lower cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Furthermore, tea contains caffeine, vitamins and anti-oxidants, which can prevent cells being damaged by carcinogens.

Recent research reported this year, however, suggests that drinking hot strong tea can increase the risk of getting cancer. If the temperature is higher than 80, tea could scold the oesophagus, allowing tannins in the tea to cause damage, possibly leading to mutations and hence to cancer, Hsu said.

                                                                               Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Feature: Glosasry III (no talking)

Many vegetarian restaurants are self-serve buffet style (自助式), and the photo above shows a typical sign seen at such places:

(word-by-word horizontally from top left to bottom right):

夾菜時      "tweezering vegetables time      
請勿交談    please not exchange talk
謝謝合作    thank-thank combine action!"

i.e. "When selecting vegetables, please do not talk; thank you for your cooperation."

                                                                Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Restaurant Review: -- Miaoli City (Miaoli County)

After walking for an hour around Miaoli City's (苗栗市) old center--near the railway station--and finding no vegetarian restaurant and not even a vegetarian option at two noodle shops, NOMM was starting to think Hakka people (客家人) are evidently big meat eaters.

    But about 5 minutes from our hotel in the opposite direction we found the Caoshitang Sushi Guan (草食堂素食館; "Herbivore Hall Vegetarian Restaurant", but no English sign).

Over the next two days, NOMM tried:

i) Hakka toon [herb]-flavoured "plank" noodles (客家香椿粄條; NT$80), which surprisingly were in a soup, but were no less tasty for that. Another happy surprise was the absence of fake meat.
ii) "hundred pages tofu" (百頁豆腐; NT$30), which was fresh and succulent
iii) grated burdock (牛蒡絲; NT$30), which was tasty if slightly oily
(photo above)

iv) mapo tofu  rice (麻婆燴飯; NT$80), in which appeared the first fake ground meat
v) steamed seasonal leafy greens (燙青菜; NT$50), which was covered in a fake-meat sauce   
vi) Hakka toon[herb]-flavoured bamboo shoots (客家香筍; NT$60), which were also rather oily
vii) house special golden tofu (招牌黃金豆腐; NT$30), which had nothing wrong with it.
(photo right)

So in short, everything was ok, yet somehow something was lacking. But it was certainly nice to find a restaurant after and hour's search, and the fact that NOMM went back a second time shows it was more than acceptable.

Other options include various QQ (Hoklo Taiwanese for "chewy") noodles at NT$90; hot pots at NT$190 (NT$120 for a small portion); and meals for 3-5 people at NT$1,000  for 5 dishes & 1 soup (5菜一湯), 6-8 people at NT$2,000 for 7 dishes & 1 soup, and 10-12 people at NT$3,000 for 9 dishes & 1 soup.

The restaurant can do banquets for weddings &c.

Typical meal price: NT$80-120
NOMM fake meat/processed food index: 2 (good)                             
Address: 88 Xianfu Rd. (縣府路), Miaoli City (near County Hall)
Telephone: 037-355566

                                                                    Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011

News Brief: Life on a Taiwanese tuna boat

Student recounts Greenpeace experience

Amy Lan (藍之青), a 22-year old student from National Chengchi University’s department of diplomacy, shared her experiences about the two months she spent as a volunteer crewmember on Greenpeace vessel Esperanza on its mission to protect the Pacific and promote the establishment of ocean reserves in Western and Central Pacific Fisheries, the Taipei Times reports today (full article here).

Lan’s group encountered about 10 fishing vessels, four of which were Taiwanese, which she boarded to conduct interviews and better understand fishing conditions. She also saw first-hand how longline fishing is done.

An unforgettable episode from her journey was when the group saved a swordfish caught in the ropes of a tuna longline and watched as it swam away. The experience led her to think about the many fish killed as byproducts of tuna fishing.

Lan said she was surprised to see the hard lives of the fishermen, working on a small fishing boats in cramped conditions for seven to eight months at a time without docking and only making meager catches.

Text and photos © Taipei Times

Saturday, 19 November 2011

News Brief: Taiwanese food company accused

Cambodian land seizures protested

Human rights groups yesterday staged a demonstration in front of the headquarters of Ve Wong Corp—a well-known food manufacturer that produces instant noodles, sauces and snacks—in Taipei, protesting against the alleged seizure of farmland in Cambodia by two of the company’s joint ventures, the Taipei Times reports today (full story here)

Text and photos © Taipei Times

Thursday, 17 November 2011

News Brief: Happy mother donates vegetarian lunch boxes

A woman who married into a rich and prominent Hong Kong family and who has waited almost ten years without giving birth to a son or daughter, last year went eat at a vegetarian restaurant in New Taipei City. There, she prayed for a child to a statue of the Bodhisattva Guanyin (觀音), and having had a child, this year has donated HK$800,000 (ca. NT$3.1 million) to the restaurant to provide 1,000 vegetarian lunch boxes per week for the next year, the Apple Daily reports today (full Chinese-language article here).

Accepting the money, the boss of the Lianhua Veg Restaurant (蓮花素食) on Fuhe Road (福和路) in Yonghe District (永和區), said that they would start giving out the first 500 boxes this Saturday with priority to public welfare and social organizations.

                                                                  Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

News Brief: activists urge end to poultry slaughter

Activists urge end to poultry slaughter

About a dozen people from the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST; 台灣動物社會研究會) and Wenshan Community College (文山社區大學) in Taipei gathered at the Council of Agriculture yesterday to present a petition urging the council to put an immediate stop to the slaughter of poultry in traditional markets, the Taipei Times reports today (full article here).

They asked the COA to explain why a proclamation prohibiting the slaughter of poultry in traditional markets that was to be implemented in April 2008 was first postponed and finally abandoned last year.

The advocates said the prohibition related not just to animal welfare, but was also a way of preventing the spread of avian influenza and ensuring sanitary conditions, and violated the Animal Industry Act (畜牧法) and the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法)

COA data from last year show there are 62 registered poultry slaughterhouses in Taiwan, which handle about 120 million chickens every year, the Taipei Times notes.

                                                                                                     Text and photos © Taipei Times

Feature: Glossary: Religious reasons complicate timing

Most restaurants have regular opening days and times, but with many Taiwanese being irregular vegetarians based around the religious calendar, things can get confusing.

This sign reads (word-by-word, vertically from top right to bottom left):
each week-sun (=Sunday) public rest
(meet with
beginning 1, 15 as
usual operate business)

i.e. Closed on Sundays (unless Sunday is the 1st or 15th of the lunar month, in which case, open as usual).

News Brief: Is cheese healthier than butter?

Doctors and nutritionists have long recommended avoiding all animal fats to trim cholesterol, but Danish researchers say cheese may not be so bad, and probably shouldn't be placed in the same category as butter, Reuters reported yesterday (here) in a story picked up by Taiwan’s Chinese-language media today (e.g. here).

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

News Brief: Soymilk has excellent proteins - Nutritionist

Rich in high-quality protein and low in cholesterol, soymilk is healthier than cow's milk and good for the whole family, nutritionist Liu Yi-li (劉怡里) told TW-News (full Chinees-language article here).

Protein is not just a key nutritional need for childhood growth, Liu said, but is a good source of energy for adults. Drunk at breakfast, its lecithin (卵磷脂) can help improve children's concentration at school and reduce their father's pressure at work, while its isoflavones (異黃酮) can help ease mothers going through menopause.

                                                             Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

News Brief: Fair Trade Commission criticised over coffee fines

Following the imposition of fines recently by the Fair Trade Commission on convenience store chains for coordinated raising of coffee prices, a legislator yesterday criticised the FTC in the legislative Yuan, the Liberty Times reports today (Chinese-language article here).

Democratic Progressive Party legislator Li Jun-yi (李俊毅) said that since it was unable to make vendors return prices to their original levels, the FTC should join Premier Wu Dun-yi's (吳敦義) list of "incompetent" government agencies.

FTC chairperson Wu Shiow-ming (吳秀明) responded that forcing vendors to lower prices would be degenerating into populism (淪為民粹).

                                                                                              Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

Feature: Bread in any language --Photo

While in Hengchun, i passed this bakery.
It doesn't say "bread" in English, but in Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese and, I suppose, sort of in Portuguese. (Another Portuguese word to make it to Taiwan via Japan is tempura -->天婦羅 -->甜不辣)

                                                                                     Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Restaurant Review: Good place for a banquet -- Hengchun, Pingtung County

[apologies for delay the delay of this post; my computer went for a swim this week]

                                 Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Sunday, 13 November 2011

News Brief: "Confucian Cuisine" is nonsense -- Councilor

Taipei councilor says that the city’s promotion of Confucian cuisine (儒家菜) is ridiculous since it even includes Italian spaghetti, the Liberty Times reports today (Chinese-language article here). 

The concept dates back to June this year when Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin promoted a Confucian soap opera and Confucian-themed dishes in an attempt to attract Chinese tourists deprived of traditional culture in their home country (July Taipei Times article here).

But councilor Wu Si-yao (吳思瑤) complained about the budget of NT$5.7 million (ca. US$180,000) given to restaurateurs in the Dalongtong (大龍峒) area near the city’s Confucius Temple (孔廟), and said that calling such items as “noodle stall pig liver” (麵攤的豬肝連), “meat from beside the snout” (嘴邊肉), “pink sausage” (粉腸) [traditional Taiwanese dishes], spicy hot pot (麻辣火鍋), and even Italian spaghetti (義大利麵) as “Confucian cuisine” was a case of “Greater China ideology tyrannizing Taiwan’s food and beverage culture”.

                                                               Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Saturday, 12 November 2011

News Brief: Low-salt diet questioned

A low-salt diet might not be as healthy as previously thought, a study by Danish scientists suggest, according to a report in today's China Times (Chinese-language article here).

While the research accepts that lowering salt intake can reduce blood pressure, it can increase levels of cholesterol, fat and hormones in the blood, which in turn can lead to a greater risk of heart disease.0

                                                                               Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Feature: Vegetarian Riddle

In case this blog is becoming a little "serious news heavy", here is a more light-hearted feature
(apologies for cross-posting):

吃素的人吃/喝什麼牛, 什麼雞, 什麼羊, 什麼馬, 什麼魚, 什麼猴, 什麼鼠, 什麼豬? …
What kind of "cow", "chicken", "sheep", "horse", "fish", "monkey", "rat" and "pig" products can vegetarians eat?
(8 answers in Chinese, each 2 or 3 characters, though other variations perhaps possible.)

[p.s. this is "environmental vegetarianism", therefore not 牛奶 (cow's milk) or 雞蛋 (chicken egg), i.e. no animal products]
[p.p.s. no 素雞 ("vegetarian chicken") or anything like that]

for an example of what is sought:
if it asked for “dragon”, the answer might be 龍眼  (longan; lit. "dragon eye") or 龍鬚菜 ("dragon whisker vegetable"; see photo)

                                                                               Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Friday, 11 November 2011

News Brief: What the heck is New Row Mian?

Taipei councilors yesterday asked why the city’s latest “international festival” about to kick off has the Chinese “牛肉麵” transliterated as “new row mian”*  rather than being translated as “beef noodles”, Formosa TV reports today (full Chinese-language article here).

Taipei City Government explained that food expert Han Liang-lu (韓良露) suggested it previously, on the basis that Taiwan’s food culture should have distinctive names.

*[NOMM notes: this is not according to any Romanization system ever used, the city’s adoption of China’s system would produce niu rou mian, for example]

Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Thursday, 10 November 2011

News Brief: School lunch kickbacks case expands -- Prosecutors

The scandal of elementary and junior high school principals in New Taipei City (新北市; formerly Taipei County) taking kickbacks in the provision of school lunches has exploded, the China Times reports today (full Chinese-language article here; presumably the Taipei Times will cover this story tomorrow). 

Yesterday, November 10, the Banciao District Prosecutors Office (板橋地檢署) again directed the search of 7 junior high and 13 elementary schools, and arraigned four principals and one food provider to appear in court. Investigations also discovered that some elementary school principals, after receiving cash from providing companies, also held positions evaluating committee members at other schools, for which, shamefully, they further took bribes. 

Prosecutors said this was not a case of “established practice” but was criminal behaviour, and principals involved must be brought to justice with all due haste.

                                                                 Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

News Brief: Popular 'winter warmers' not necessarily good for health

With the weather getting cooler, people in Taiwan are starting to indulge in the winter practice of “eating food supplements”(進補) to strengthen themselves and keep warm. A Chinese-medicine practitioner is warning that people should first have a liver check-up to make sure they are already strong enough to ‘take the cure’, cable television station TVBS reported today (full Chinese-language article here).

Two popular winter supplement dishes, duck with ginger (薑母鴨) and mutton hotpot (羊肉爐), which are tasty and filling, can also be nutritious if the diner has a healthy liver to rely on, according to the traditional doctor, Zou Wei-lun (鄒瑋倫). But for those who stay up late in the evening, perhaps drinking alcohol or working overtime, eating ginger duck or sesame-oil chicken can lead to a bitter taste in the mouth, produce sores or other damage to the mouth, indicating “liver storing blood” (藏血), that is, that the liver is not in good condition, and up to 10 percent of the body’s blood is not circulating properly.

To help revitalize the liver, Chinese medicine recommends seeds of the Chinese magnolia vine (五味子) and sesame (芝麻). The former [which means “five-flavour seed”], derives its name because it tastes sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and salty, and so can help regulate the internal organs, Zou said.

Recommended recipes include boiling the seeds as a herbal tea, or mixing it 3:1 with sesame and sprinkling on the top of noodles or rice everyday.

                                                       Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

News Brief: Cabbages and oranges enter seasonal low prices

2011’s low rainfall has lead to high productivity and consequently low prices for oranges and cabbages, Formosa Television reported yesterday (Chinese article here). 

Prices of Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata (高麗菜; “Korean vegetable”) and Chinese cabbage (大白菜; Brassica rapa pekinensis; “big white vegetable”), fell as low as NT$5-6 per kilogram in areas of production, while that of ponkan (椪柑; Citrus poonensis; a relative of the tangerine) fell to NT$4-6 per catty (台斤; 600g). 

This is causing much dismay to farmers—and their political supporters—since capital costs for ponkan, for example, are estimated at NT$12 per catty.

                                                                             Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Feature: We're at war, Comrades!

Sometimes it really feels like a war. A war of attrition, in which "they" try to wear "us" down by continual small attacks. They, in this case, are the supermarkets; we are their customers.  Sounds like "class war"? I don't mean it to, the "Comrades" was meant as a joke.

But WTF, it sure feels like it sometimes.

Today NOMM bought some leafy greens in Welcome Supermarket (頂好超市),  edible chrysanthemum (茼蒿) because it was on offer at NT$19. Still about double the price of any greens in the local wet market, but it was raining outside and ....
    But when they were scanned at the checkout the price came up at NT$24, so i went back to get the ticket off the vegetable shelves... but it had disappeared. A member of staff was arranging stock nearby, but i couldn't be bothered.
     On leaving the shop, however, i had to walk past a large sign advertising "Edible chrysanthemum on special offer, original price NT$49, now NT$19 from November 03-10." [translation from Chinese]
    Also by coincidence the guy from the checkout was unoccupied, so I called him over, pointed to the sign, and asked him why i had paid NT$24.
     He said " The offer has finished."
    I said "It clearly states 'till Nov 10'."
    He said "That's yesterday."
    I said "No, that's today."
    The woman on the shoe repair counter weighed in on my side. The guy gave up, called over the staff member working in the vegetable section. She, refusing to look me in the eye, and not apologizing from first to last, said (as if she was doing me a great favour) "Ok, I'll give them to you for NT$19."
    I said "...

Well, you can imagine what i said.

Yesterday, a similar thing happened in A.mart (愛買, literally something like "Love of Shopping"): NT$129 for something marked NT$99, and a woman behind me in the queue said "This always happens on special items."
    I said "You think this is bad, try Carrefour."

And at QuanLian (全聯 , literally something like "Completely Unified" but possibly bearing the English name Pxmart) on Thursday last week, my "free gift" for the NT$30 fee to join its membership scheme (so it can keep a track of what i buy) of a 1.5 litre bottle of sports drink transmogrified into a packet of toilet paper.
    "We've run out of sports drink," the checkout woman said.
    "Then i won't join the scheme," I said
     "I'll go and get a bottle," the lazy so-and-so said

Day after day, week after week, it never stops, it just wears us down. What i don't understand is why they don't care that we get fed up. We're already tired, we're spending money on ever-increasing prices, we've queued for tens of minutes for the right to pay, and THEN they stiff us on the shelf prices. Don't they care we'll go somewhere else? Of course not, because everyone else is doing the same.

                                                          Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Monday, 7 November 2011

Restaurant Review: Taichung's Dajia on a 'quiet' Sunday afternoon

It's Monday, so it's Restaurant Review time:

NOMM visited southern Taiwan this weekend, and reviews of two restaurants in Pingtung County (屏東縣) will follow in future. On the way back north we stopped in Dajia Township (大甲鎮 or is it now a District 區?) in Taichung County, thinking the streets around the Zhenlan Temple (鎮瀾宮) might offer rich pickings.

This temple is the centre of the Mazu (媽祖) pilgrimage around neighbouring counties that celebrates the seafarers' deity's birthday in the 3rd lunar month each year. At that time the town is completely overrun with visitors, but there is probably never a quiet Sunday, but 3:30 yesterday afternoon was perhaps as tranquil as it gets.

Perhaps too quiet, even. The streets behind the temple have at least half a dozen vegetarian restaurants, but two were shut for a week's holiday, one only opens mornings, and one more had, perhaps not surprisingly more or less run out of food.

Early morning diners will do well at the stall outside No. 108 Zhenlan Street. It sells a variety snacks usually only available in meaty form: "steamed-fried dumplings" (水煎包; NT$7), steamed ravioli (蒸餃; NT$5), rice tamales (飯糰; NT$25), congee (粥; NT$25) &c., all washed down with soymilk (豆漿; NT$10) or rice milk (米漿; NT$10).  7am~11am.

NOMM had to make do with two of only three items still available at the "30 years in business" Qianqi Sushi (千奇素食; "Thousand Wonders Vegetarian Food" but no English sign) just around the corner at No.70 Guangming Rd. 光明路. Based on the admittedly small sample of wanton with rice noodles (餛飩米粉; NT$45) and sesame paste noodles (麻醬麵; NT$40), the taste was bland and too salty, the NOMM processed food/fake meat index was high (7, both dishes contained small amounts though they could be removed), but the noodles were deliciously light and chewy. The manageress put this down to their freshness and, in particular, to their not having been refrigerated.

Vegetarian versions of meat noodle dishes (素葷; "veg and non-veg") are available further south at No. 55  Zhenlan Street. (photo)

A final treat did await outside No. 77 Jianggong Rd. (蔣公路) heading back towards the railway station, where people queue for Ming's (明) "red-bean cakes" (紅豆餅). Eponymous red-bean flavour are, of course, available, but also sweet potato (地瓜), turnip (菜蒲), taro (芋頭; Dajia's most famous local produce), green bean (綠豆), and custard (奶油), all at NT$8. The "vegetarian" (素) sign is important since even though these traditional desserts can easily be made meat-free, their original recipe calls for lard.

                                                               Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Sunday, 6 November 2011

News Brief: Wholemeal bread not always high fiber

Wholemeal bread does not necessarily equate with high fibre, the Consumers’ Foundation (消基會) announced yesterday, and often contained more fat, according to a front-page report in the Liberty Times (Chinese language article here)
With its claims to high fibre and low calories, wholemeal bread has become popular with Taiwan’s consumers, the foundation said. But a survey of bread retailers, grain stores and convenience stores in the greater Taipei area since July this year showed that this ingrained impression is not necessarily true, and sometimes oil added to increase bread’s flavour and fragrance mean they can be high fat rather than high fibre.

Fat levels of 20 samples ranged from 0.2 percent to 9 percent. Of these, the French handmade bread (法蘭西手工全麥大圓) sold by Carrefour had the lowest fat content, while the “wholemeal toast” (全麥吐司) sold by Yjysheng (一之軒) had high fat content. Eating 200g (2 or 3 slices) of this latter contained the equivalent of three teaspoons of oil, which the foundation claimed represented around half of the daily fat allowance as recommended by Taiwan’s Department of Health (衛生署).

With dietary fibre content of 3 percent to 7 percent, wholemeal bread can help reduce cholesterol, promote intestinal peristalis and reduce excessive appetite. The Foundation discovered that Mr. Mark Bakery Co.’s (馬可先生) rye and mixed grain bread (黑麥雜糧麵包) and Taiwan Yamazaki’s (台灣山崎) wholemeal toast (全麥吐司) had dietary fibre content between 6 percent and 7 percent, whereas the above-mentioned French handmade bread from Carrefour had dietary fibre only slightly higher than regular white bread, at around 3 percent to 4 percent.

The foundation said that 200g of mixed grain bread could provide up to 8-14 g of dietary fibre, representing up to half of the DOH recommended daily value of 20-30 g, compared to just 6-7g by eating 200g of white bread.

                                                              Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

Thursday, 3 November 2011

News Brief: Don't support eating contests -- Control Yuan

Government agencies were told by the Control Yuan not to support eating contests and other competitions that could damage contestants' health, the Taipei Times reported today (here).

Strangely, however, it seemed more concerned with the waste of public money through health-insurance-covered medical bills than with the contestants themselves.

News Brief: Convenience stores fined for price-fixing coffee

Taiwan's "Big Four" convenience store chains were fined for price-fixing by the Fair Trade Commission, the Taipei Times reported today (full article here)

7-Eleven was fined NT$16 million (ca. US$500,000), FamilyMart NT$2.5 million, Hi-Life  NT$1 million and OK Mart NT$500,000.

(See earlier NOMM reports here and here)

News Brief: Impoverished children to lose free milk

More than 30,000 children from low-income families are threatened with losing their three bottles of free milk per week as the Council of Agriculture looks for ways to make savings in its budget, the China Times reported today (full Chinese-language article here).

Budget constraints, milk price hikes, and shortages of fresh milk since the 2005 milk-powder melamine scare were all offered by the government agency as reasons for removing the nutritional supplement from around three-quarters of those currently receiving it, with only the most needy likely to continue on the programme.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

News Brief: School lunch suppliers, caterers substandard -- CPC

Many parents deliver hot lunches to the school gates

A random sample by the Consumer Protection Commission (消費者保護委員會) of 57 school lunch ingredient suppliers and caterers in six counties and cities around Taiwan found excessive levels of agrichemicals in ten cases, the National Education Radio (國立教育廣播電台) reported today (full Chinese-language article here). 

All fresh meat products were found to be up to standard, but four processed meat items had unacceptable levels of livestock agrochemicals. Similarly, six vegetable items tested positive for pesticide residues.

The CPC under the Executive Yuan asked the Ministry of Education to instruct schools to deal with the suppliers in accordance with their contracts, and asked the county- and city-level departments of health to investigate the sources of the meat products and deal with the manufacturers in accordance with the law.

No contraventions were found in Taitung County, whereas one to four below-standard ingredients were found in each of Taipei City, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung and Tainan