food adventures

crispy rice, steamy vegetables, spicy sauce and an egg on top. this, my friends, is a big sizzling bowl of bi bim bap. and I'm excited about it.

the other night we went out for dinner with some of the other new teachers to the local Korean restaurant, appropriately called "Korea". it was my first time trying Korean food - ever - and I loved it. we will definitely be going back to "Korea" for more bi bim bap. [and who knows, maybe even to actual Korea someday for bi bim bap...]

Husband and I have been making most of our meals at home. if you know us in real life, you know we love food, we love good food, and we love to cook. our pantry is well stocked [we came back from our last Costco run with about 15 pounds of meat] and what we don't have we have been able to borrow from neighbors [crockpot and can opener]. so far, our meals at home haven't been much out of the ordinary: beef stew, stir fry, spaghetti, Mexican, Mexican and Mexican.

eating at home is good. it saves money... and you know exactly what you're eating. going out to eat in Taiwan requires a little bit of bravery [at least for me]. 

first: I am not the most daring person when it comes to trying new foods. I have some weird textural issues and to be honest there was a span of about 10 years where even thinking of eating eggs made me want to gag. [I can do scrambled and over easy now but hard boiled still disgusts me.] I know right off the bat there are some things I won't even attempt. stinky tofu? no way. BUT I do want to experience some culture and some tasty food, and not just eat "Western" all day every day.

I am also somewhat limited in which dishes I can try due to the fact I am both allergic to shellfish and sensitive to gluten. the shellfish allergy makes me nervous, but I do have an epi-pen that I have been carrying with me. most places we have been eating at have at least pictures of the dishes on the menu or even a short English description so I can pick a beef or vegetable dish. also, it's usually pretty easy to see a shrimp head floating in your soup. 

surprisingly, avoiding gluten has been my main difficulty. I lucked out and found one specialty store that carried gluten-free spaghetti. other than that, I haven't seen anything designated at gluten-free. bread and pasta are actually everywhere here. and a lot of things I had assumed were rice-based are definitely not. [like dumplings. which is sad.] trying to determine whether a menu picture of a noodle dish is made with rice noodle or wheat noodle is pretty close to impossible. and then there are things - like the mushroom curry I ate for lunch - that I forget could have gluten in them and eat anyway. [but my head has been aching all afternoon so I think it's safe to say it did.]

rice and vegetables might not sound all that adventurous, but I'm excited about bi bim bap. because let's face it - I will never be one of those people who can walk into a restaurant, point at a menu in a foreign language, and eat whatever wild or unusual dish is set in front of me. but there are still things I can try that are new and delicious... and won't put me in the back of an ambulance.


  1. Cara Lin Bridgman8/13/12, 12:07 PM

    Trying to be gluten-free in Taichung because of celiac disease. It's tough. Real tough. Almost all soy sauce has wheat in it. Cross contamination is everywhere. Rice and tapioca flours are milled on machines that mill wheat. In processed foods, starch can mean wheat starch and spices could include anything.

    1. I'm lucky that I'm only sensitive, not allergic. I can tell there is wheat in almost everything, nearly every time we eat out I have a headache or stomach pains. [except with the bi bim bap!]

      good luck and let me know if you find any stores that carry strictly gluten free items!

    2. Cara Lin Bridgman8/16/12, 1:17 PM

      For you, maybe just asking them to prepare foods without soy sauce could be enough. Once you become a regular at a few restaurants, you can take your own soy sauce. Almost all black bean soy sauces are wheat free. It's the soybean soy sauces that have wheat as a second or third ingredient. Also, watch out for rice noodles being boiled in the same water as wheat noodles and assume anything bread like is based on wheat. If you do that, you may be ok most of the time.


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