- Jiao Tong
Life is like good food. Each tasteful encounter comes but once, yet leaves us longing for more. As with the journey of life, the sweet fruits of fine cooking come only after the sweat of hard work. Good cuisine, one of Taiwan’s innate and ubiquitous pleasures, has been refined to a cultural art in Taipei City’s old districts.
The culinary map of Taipei follows the river, from the city’s oldest neighborhood of Bangka to the fashionably forward district of Ximending. The route continues through the century-old North Gate area to Dadaocheng, home to the city’s tea and dried goods trades, and then onward to the cultural center of Dalongdong. These old neighborhoods, along the tracks of the river and the footsteps of the people who came here, definitively shaped and defined the nascent city’s culinary topography. These areas are the cradles of folk culture, with their old buildings and temples and bustling energy beckoning us to experience the “old-time flavors” that we are loath to see disappear.
The old districts of Taipei also boast culinary artisans dedicated to the old ways. They carry on the wisdom of the past so that people today may experience the authentic old-time tastes. Mr. Jiao Tong has dedicated years of his life to continuing the culture and flavors of Taipei’s street cuisine. In Savoring the Tastes of Old Taipei, he treats us to a map of delicious flavors that he has lovingly drawn using his experienced palate. Each stop on the map awakens the memories of longtime Taipei residents and encapsulates for us all the city’s many stories.
We have translated extracts of Jiao Tong’s book into English for those with a love for good food and an interest in the culture of Taipei. It is as much a map for the taste buds as a walking guide through the city’s variegated history. The dishes presented within have been perfected to the point that any change would only diminish their authenticity and taste. These dishes carry on the culture and story of the people of Taipei in all of their myriad sentiments. Taipei is a city of both tradition and innovation, combining cutting-edge fashion with yesteryear charm. Jiao Tong’s book opens a window for all to savor the deliciously authentic flavors of Taipei.