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More Tidbits on Taiwan & Japan

Posted Jul 01 2013 7:25pm

3 weeks of vacation zoomed by just like that!

A few days in Taipei, Taiwan and 2.5 weeks in Japan has been so much fun. Each day was filled with new adventures, interesting food and friendly locals.

I took pictures everywhere I go and nearly overloaded my 8gb memory card (lesson learned: buy bigger memory card or have back-up ones on hand!.

Both places were beautiful and very different in comparison to Vancouver. I’ve  mentioned a few interesting tidbits in my last pos t, and this one will continue where I left off. This post hardly represents what I’ve encountered and gained from this trip, but I think it captures a lot of my thoughts on the food aspect of things (hey, after all, I’m a food fanatic so of course I notice and talk about all things related to food!).

1. White rice and highly refined white flour is still very popular in Taiwan and Japan. I hardly see any other choices that are non-white. The only time I was able to get something healthier was the bento box that I purchased on the Shinkansen to Kyoto. The bento box that I got was part of a new Health line that the company recently launched, focused on providing a lower-kcal option bento box with more variety of vegetables, less protein and less carbs – but still the rice provided was a mix between white and red rice (not exactly the whole grains that I’m used to, but better than nothing).

2. Japan values using ingredients that are produced locally. For example, I often see restaurants specify that rice is “Made in Japan” and in one restaurant, there was two versions of the same dish with different price points (the one featuring ingredients sourced locally costed nearly double compared with the one that used ingredients from China).

3. Many no sugar added cold beverage available. Compared to the selection I see in Canada, Japan and Taiwan has a much more interesting selection of iced teas without sugar (no added sugar nor artificial sweeteners), iced black coffees and even vegetable juice with no added sugar and salt.

4. Customizable serving sizes for rice bowls in Japan. In Japan, it is common to have the option of decreasing/increasing the amount served for rice bowls and curries, from half orders all the way up to 3x the regular amount of rice.

5. There is not enough garbage cans in Japan. To me, I felt it was rather difficult to locate garbage cans on the streets. And yet the streets are all very clean and no one litters on the ground. I have once been told that Japanese people are accustomed to carrying garbage around until they locate a garbage can (which may sometimes mean bringing it home with them…) and now I see why that is. I’ve asked a local if he also feels like there is a shortage of garbage cans, he agrees with me but cannot explain this phenomenon either.

Away from Vancouver for 3 weeks has been an eye-opening experience, but it definitely feels good to be back home with lots of space and sunny weather.

Have you been to Taipei or Japan? Have you noticed what I’ve seen?

Stephanie

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