The first time we came to Taiwan in the year 2000 it was very foreign to me. My memory of our first visit to the grocery store upon arrival is still very vivid. Blue chicken? Fish gutted over a drain in the floor? Aisles of sauces, oil, and noodles all with Chinese print? Dried squid snacks? I was overwhelmed. We left with a package of Ramen, some bananas, and a bag of Doritos. Even the Ramen was different--it had a nasty oil meat packet, the spice packet, and some scary-looking dried vegetables. I remember thinking that I was doomed. Now, 6 years later, I have adapted our menu and can shop in the markets with the best of them. One family breakfast favorite is danbing. It's like a Chinese version of the egg burrito, but instead of cheese it's soy sauce and green onion, and replacing the flour tortilla is a thin wrapper referred to as a "pancake." The packaged product description:
"Refining a first-class materials. It is natural and nutritious food. Pancake is ideal for be mixed with a variety of materials will create delicious enhance the appetite."
The instructions are even better:
"Adding a little oil, when the hot oil changed after add to pancake and golden double small and medium-sized cooking fire. Pancake will be paved in the fried egg. When it is cooked, the pancake will to roll up fried egg. It is the delicious pancake."
You know I'm not creative enough to make this up. Look for yourselves.
Luckily for me, I don't need to refer to these instructions because I've seen the street vendors make these. Now we can eat danbings at home for our very own delicious pancake experience!
And we don't even have to worry about how long the raw egg mix has been sitting unrefrigerated in the bowl on the street curb, or which insect decided to visit that bowl to do all manner of business from laying eggs to relieving itself.
So, if you think I've learned how to do my Chinese cooking by following some magical Chinese instructions on the labels of my groceries, think again! Martha Stewart on Yahoo food has taught me far more about Asian cooking. I just have an easier time finding the ingredients here in Taiwan. And, if all else fails, we go to Costco!
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