二嫂米粉湯 (Er So Mi Feng Tang)
Feast. Ginger-cilantro pork belly. Taiwanese sausage. Rice with meat sauce. Noodles. Garlic vegetables.
Rock picked Er So Mi Feng Tang off a previous list that he had compiled before the epic Taiwan trip began. The bad part was that the menu was completely in Chinese with no English translations in sight. My Chinese reading abilities were lacking in scope (vocabularly-wise), but fortunately, Rock had a much better grasp perusing food menus. Still, we had to ask for a bit of help (NON-NATIVES ALERT!). This involved a bit of culinary adventure, because our illiteracies may or may not have betrayed us and our ordering abilities. The worst thing that could have ended up on our table was chicken anus or something (half-joking).
The ginger-cilantro pork belly was fairy spicy, but this was the result of the heat from the ginger, rather from an actual spice from the land of Scoville. The Scoville scale is actually an interesting formulation from the late Mr. Wilbur Scoville, who quantified the pungency of chilis through alcohol extraction. These extracts were tasted and diluted until no pungency could be detected, which offered a quantitative method of classifying pungency. Brilliant, for a time that didn’t have mass spectrometry or other chemical analyses. It would be interesting if the Scoville scale was more comprehensive and included heat scaling for things other than peppers. Then again, if this were the case, not every ingredient would possess “pungency,” and we’d end up micromanaging flavors, which may or may not be fun in the long run. For your own delight, the pungency of ginger comes from “gingerol,” which is a relative from the capsaicin family.
The bright pink sausage was offputting for some reason, probably because it reminded me of the widely shared pink-slime photos of ammonia-tenderized taco meat floating around the interwebs. The bright pink color is the result of high amounts of nitrite, which is added to cure meat. Nitrite binds to the iron atom in myoglobin, producing a different electronic transition (not gonna go any further than this), and creates a bright red, almost pinkish color. The sausages looked like they were dunked in PeptoBismol. Not sure what happened there. Maybe someone accidentally used too much curing salt? (I certainly hope pink slime hasn’t found its way to Taiwan).
Meat sauce and rice. Taiwanese comfort food to the max.
This reminded me of a bowl of udon, just that the noodles seemed like egg noodles rather than regular thick udon noodles (soft, lightly salted, thick Japanese wheat noodles). The broth was pretty good, and the concept was simple.
Garlic, hoisin, soy-sauce splattered vegetables, with probably some cornstarch to tighten the whole gig up. Makes the sauce stick better.
I’d consider the day a success.