Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bing (ice)

If I haven't mentioned it before, the summers here are monstrously hot. Because of this, Taiwanese people have created a lot of delicious drinks and ices. This is one of the iced deserts you can find in most neighborhoods here. Basically, it's shaved ice, but whereas in the US shaved ice consists of just ice and sugary, artificially colored syrup, Taiwanese people bring the Chinese focus on texture and contrasting flavors to their ice. This particular ice has some sour apple green jelly (i usually get sour mango, ching ren guo, which literally translates as lovers' fruit, I think), black jelly (which has a subtle flavor almost like tea or coffee or chocolate, but is softer and isn't really any of those) and those strange little pearl things, which don't really have much flavor but add interesting texture. I may try to post a photo of one of the shops soon - there are usually a great many options including various flavors of jelly, various starchy creations (like these pearls, tang yuen (gooey rice balls), and other tapioca based things), along with fruit in syrup and other unidentified items. In Keelung, I used to get a simple version with taro soaked in simple syrup and an unsweetened custard. This was nice and not very sweet - I enjoyed putting a little lemon juice on it to give it a sour touch. Recently, near my work I had this with tang yuen (entirely textural), taro, and sour plums (the syrup gave the whole thing a nice flavor - for me the sour flavor is important). On a hot day this can be really good.

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