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Taiwanese wedding cookies

posted by Martin Rubli at 16:51

Taiwanese weddings have a myriad of customs, too many for a single person to know or for a single couple to follow.

One of the most commonly followed is the "tradition" of giving a box of wedding cookies to the bride's guests. Calling it a tradition would be a little bit of a stretch because this is apparently a relatively new phenomenon. People used to give wedding cakes, which are truly Chinese-style cakes with different fillings. But in a trend of imitating Western culture those are slowly being replaced with Western-style cookies.

Unfortunately the packaging of these wedding cookies is so elaborate that they not only demand a fair amount of patience to eat, but also result in a huge pile of unnecessary trash. Let's take a little tour of such a box of wedding cookies ...

This is one of Taiwan's typical wedding cookie boxes.

This is one of Taiwan's typical wedding cookie boxes.

Opening the box exposes the first layer ...

Opening the box exposes the first layer ...

... which hides another layer underneath.

... which hides another layer underneath.

This is the entire cookie content of that huge box. When I buy cookies in Switzerland this amount might come in two simple bags.

This is the entire cookie content of that huge box. When I buy cookies in Switzerland this amount might come in two simple bags.

Let's weigh, shall we? 596 grams.

Let's weigh, shall we? 596 grams.

The amassed trash from just one box of wedding cookies.

The amassed trash from just one box of wedding cookies.

And the pile of individual cookie wrappers next to a Swiss Army Knife for size comparison. Again, let's weigh ...

And the pile of individual cookie wrappers next to a Swiss Army Knife for size comparison. Again, let's weigh ...

744 grams of trash for 596 grams of cookies. That's a cookie to trash ratio of 4:5!

744 grams of trash for 596 grams of cookies. That's a cookie to trash ratio of 4:5!

So there you have it ... 596 grams of cookies and 744 grams of trash. Multiply that with a - moderately estimated - fifty guests of the bride and you get the impressive amount of 37.2 kilograms of mostly non-recyclable but easily avoidable trash.

So there you have it ... 596 grams of cookies and 744 grams of trash. Multiply that with a - moderately estimated - fifty guests of the bride and you get the impressive amount of 37.2 kilograms of mostly non-recyclable but easily avoidable trash.

In all fairness, at least these cookies were good. Many wedding cookies I've had - and trust me, there were a lot ;-) - belonged into the 'just okay' or 'who baked these sugar mounds?!' category. There even seems to be a pattern where the quality of the cookies is inversely proportional to the fanciness of the box.

One of my favorites so far was the brand that one of my friends picked. The cookie wrappers aside, the simple and useful box has made a good home for my Clif Bar and Luna Bar stock:

The refreshingly simple box of [http://iris.imeifoods.com.tw/Cookie/cookie.htm IRIS wedding cookies].

The refreshingly simple box of IRIS wedding cookies.

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Chocolate goodness

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:30

Last weekend a combination of a friend's request for chocolate cake and the desire to take on fresh baking challenges recently led us to try one of my family's favorite recipes.

I wasn't exactly optimistic about the outcome given that it involves a few steps that my traditional mix-it-all-and-bake cakes don't require. There's separating eggs (who likes to touch eggs?!), melting chocolate in a water bath, glaze-proofing the cake with warm jam, and finally pouring a cup of thick chocolate glazing on top of it, hoping that it covers the cake's surface equally.

Well, despite a few mishaps such as yolk in the egg whites, burn marks on my arms, an overzealous oven, and poor garnishing timing (and, apparently, lack of talent) it turned out quite delicious!

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And just to show you how delicious it is, let's take a look at what's inside ...

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You've got to love the chocolate part. :-)


Chocolate and pizza and chocolate

posted by Martin Rubli at 17:02

As with so many foreign foods finding good pizza in Taiwan isn't easy, just like it isn't easy to find good Asian food in, say, Switzerland. (If you live in Switzerland and are thinking that your local Chinese restaurant isn't that bad, chances are it doesn't qualify as good real Chinese food. :-)

Fortunately there are always (plenty of) exceptions to the rule, and Bon Appétit in 竹北 (Zhu bei, Jubei, Chubei, insert your favorite spelling here) is one of them. Here's what their pizza looks like:

Pizza Vegetarina:

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Pizza Giardinera:

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And yes, they are as good as they look!

Of course, pizza makes hungry for dessert, and what better after pizza than chocolate? So, we went on a little shopping spree in Carrefour and bought as much stuff as we could possibly fit on the scooter. A selection of our items:

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The 1.6 kg of chocolate don't quite compare with our visit of the Lindt factory store in Switzerland last summer, which looked something like this:

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If you're wondering where all these calories go stay tuned for the next blog post about one of our favorite weekend activities: hiking.


Tiramisu and the masters of the blue tiger

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:17

Butchering European culture has developed into an innocent tradition here in Taiwan. Most noticeably this has to do with food, one of my "favorites" (to tell, not to eat!) being pasta with ketchup instead of actual tomatoes.

Today I'd like to present something that takes the cake in so many ways. There's a bakery chain called 提拉米蘇 (the Chinese transliteration of 'Tiramisu') that is hugely popular, to the extent where people line up outside the shop or wait for several weeks to receive their online cake order.

Here's what the object of people's desire looks like - the Tiramisu cake:

"Tiramisu" cake

They even have a diagram explaining the cake's structure: a base of digestive biscuit, two layers of mousse, a layer of chocolate cake, and to top it off cocoa powder imported from Malaysia.

Let's attribute the fact that half the ingredients don't show up in traditional tiramisu recipes to artistic interpretation.

What really takes the cake is how they bend the largely unknown and unspectactular history of tiramisu into a deeply "meaningful" story based on a mistranslation and an awful lot of imagination (a.k.a. 唬濫 - Taiwanese for "bullshit"):

The box of the above "Tiramisu" cake


~~提拉米蘇的傳說~~
在一個征戰的年代,一個煙銷瀰漫的異鄉國度。
妻子為了即將遠行的丈夫,將家裡僅剩的乳製品作成了一份充滿愛心的甜點 ~~~~ 提拉米蘇 (意味 「帶我走」)。
雖然無法將我帶走,也將我虔誠的心意帶走,用我誠摯的心化成對上天的悲憫請求,佑我心愛的人,平安歸來------是浪漫的、是愛情的一種傳說………。

The legend of Tiramisu:

In an age of battles, in a foreign country beaten by wars.

A wife uses the only dairy that is left and her love to make a dessert for her husband who is heading for the battle: “Tiramisu” (meaning “take me with you”)

“Even though you cannot take me, please take my pious heart with you. I shall devote my sincerest of hearts to prayer: please bless my beloved husband. Come back unharmed.”

It's a legend of love and romance ...


Can you feel the Tiramisu coming back up yet?