Would I write a blog post dedicated to an oil pancake, a simple street food snack? Why yes, yes I would. To me, this is what is being a foodie is all about.
There’s been a backlash against the term “foodie”. The argument is that it has lost it’s meaning … and in a way, it has. That’s because it’s drowning in meanings. It can be someone who knows a lot about food, someone who enjoys their food, or someone who really appreciates high quality food and is probably/possibly slightly snobbish.
I would class myself as planting both feet and an elbow(?) in all three categories. Junk food is definitely out, but I’m flexible when it comes to the health benefits (or not) of different food.
So, no, my street food does not have to cost £9.50 and be soaked in truffle oil (London, I’m looking at you!).
My love affair of the day was with some items from a little stand called 巧房餡餅 (Qiǎo fáng xiàn bǐng, according to Google) on Heping East Road (和平東路) that specialises in xian bing (餡餅). These are essentially bun-shaped pastry pies stuffed with meat or veggies.
You can watch them be freshly fried before your eyes… as if your appetite needed an incentive.
Here is my beef version (30元).
Now there’s a good reason why I’m tilting it upwards for the photograph. That’s because it is SO juicy it is threatening to leak all over me. My friend taught me the correct method to eat it, which involves a very cautious first bite, followed by a lot of sucking to get that juice. Clear I didn’t suck hard enough because my jeans soon got a brand new pattern with some eau de vache.
Yet, juicy though this was, I didn’t really find the flavour of the meat particularly impressive. Pleasing, but not spectacular. Although the pastry was fabulous.
What really drove me crazy was something far simpler. I basically ravished the 蔥油餅 (Cōng yóubǐng, 25元) which basically translates as spring onion oil pancake. It was crisp and flaky, yet left a satisfying coating of oil round my mouth, all offset with the familiar and fragrant tang of the spring onion. I need to learn how to make this! It sounds boring but it’s the dark horse of the food world – it will surprise you!
It’s midnight in Tokyo and I am now starving. I wish I could teleport to a Taipai night market…
巧房餡餅 (Qiǎo fáng xiàn bǐng)
Where: No. 313, Section 2, Heping E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City
When: Daily, 11:00 – 19:30