Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mexican Food in Taiwan

Bean-o-rama's recent post on Mexican food has inspired me to put on this ol' blog with regards to Mexican food in Taiwan.

I'm not sure how to start this, so let's start with a silly scenario.

Let's say that you come to Taiwan and decide that rather than partaking of any of the local cuisines (spanning all of Asia with admirable verisimilitude), you instead opt for getting some Mexican food to avoid the dysentery. You might be curious about how they interpret a burrito. You might be wondering how a culture that only peripherally socializes with cheese would go about making an enchilada plate. You might just hate Asian food.

Regardless of your reasons, I am here today to tell you that you should not under any circumstances follow this urge to try Mexican food here in Taiwan. I am sure there are exceptions to this rule (i.e. you have a friend that makes it at home), but I have yet to actually encounter any. Here are some examples of experiences that I have had:

  • There is a very nice restaurant that also doubles as a jazz club here in Taipei called Brown Sugar. It is very snazzy, the jazz is actually pretty darn good, and the drink menu is downright spectacular. The food menu is also pretty interesting, and they somehow manage to do a great job on their Western fare. In spite of all of these things that they have going for them, their version of Nachos (which costs about US$7~8) was a basket of Nacho Cheese Doritos served with a little bowl filled with crappy picante sauce. Seriously.

  • I can't recall the place where I had this, but at one point I ended up seeing somebody order a taco that consisted of a fried shell, corn, mayonnaise, and what appeared to be Campbell's Chunky Beef Stew. Not a single shred of lettuce, tomato, pineapple, or salsa in sight...

  • This isn't really an example of issues with Mexican cuisine, but I also once received a Mojito that consisted of nothing but rum, peppermint schnapps and ice cubes.

There are other examples, but suffice it to say that I have completely given up. Now and then, I might run across a Churro that's probably safe, but I'm even a bit scared to try those out.

I used to complain a bit about the fact that there was no good Mexican food in central Texas - only Tex-Mex. Now that I've had Tai-Mex, I have learned that there are far worse things in this world than black beans served with my fajitas.


Nel Pastel said...

Those aren't nachos! That's just ... that's just wrong, man.

In a weird way it reminds me of when we were in Frankfurt and ducked into a McDonald's (I had to have a Royale with cheese before we left Europe). My mom ended up ordering something called "El Pikante," which was a couple of small hamburger patties in a pita and topped with lettuce, tomatoes and some kind of salsa stuff. It was funny-looking, but not bad - and sure as hell not as bad as that Chunky Beef Stew thing you're talking about.

You know what we both miss from Germany? Paprika chips!

Nel Pastel said...

Oh, and I forgot something! When we were in Taos we had something with green chile in it every single day! It was like heaven. It's funny how you don't realize how much you've been missing something until you're suddenly reunited with it.

This is probably a profoundly stupid question, but do they eat or cook with pinto beans in Taiwan?