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November 2016 Archives

November 30, 2016

Shou Tian Pin (手天品), home of my favorite pineapple cakes in Taipei

Note: I currently live in Norway, but I lived in Taipei from August 2014 to June 2015 and am veeerrryyy sloooowwwly making my way through writing posts about my time there.

Pineapple cake ingredients
Ingredients in a pineapple cake from Shou Tian Pin. Click to enlarge!

Everything I know about the dangers of bringing foreign produce back into the US I've learned from EVA Air's in-flight landing video from the early '90s. I don't remember much about it because when I was seven years old I didn't have the foresight to take notes about something I might blog about over two decades later. But, hell, who needs "research"? I'll just attempt to piece together my questionably accurate memories for your "benefit."

I'm 100 percent sure the video was animated. I'm less sure about the other parts. At some point in the video, an airplane lands at an airport. (Yeah, Robyn, you got dis.) Then at some point after that, the passengers go through customs and immigration. Then some nefarious but otherwise normal-looking passenger (...it could be you) knowingly sneaks their fruit past customs. Then the video shows what happens if you don't declare your fruits and vegetables and other contraband perishables, which is this: One stowaway insect on that seemingly innocent piece of fruit multiplies into a tsunami of insects whose only purpose in life is to ravage whatever continuous landmass dares to lie in its way, a purpose it fulfills in a matter of seconds thanks to the collective power of a bajillion weaponized appetites. Congratulations, you destroyed America (and probably the rest of North America down through South America). And it only cost you one wax apple.

I was bummed out when I discovered that EVA Air doesn't show this video anymore, nor any other video that traumatizes children through the apocalyptic potential of undeclared produce. But I still think of it in regards to bringing foreign foods back to the US. That's partially why I didn't shove a Taiwanese pineapple (officially considered the best kind of pineapple on Earth, in my biased opinion) into my luggage, as much as I wish I could have. Also, I didn't want to find out what undeclared-produce prison is like.

Group of luggages and a bag of pineapple cakes
All the luggage I brought back to the US after my ten-month stay in Taiwan: two check-in luggages, laptop bag, camera bag, and pineapple cake bag containing 30 pineapple cakes.

Instead, I brought home 30 pineapple cakes from my favorite pineapple cake shop, which is sort of like bringing home a pineapple that has been dismembered and cooked into a mash and then inserted into a new skin that's made of butter and flour and then formed into single-serving bricks. So, you know, same thing.

Without any scientific evidence to back me up, I'd say that pineapple cakes, or 鳳梨酥 (fènglí sū), are Taiwan's most famous pastry as well as Taiwan's most popular souvenir, edible or otherwise. These small single-serving "cakes" usually come in the form of square or rectangular bricks whose crumbly shortbread crusts are filled with thick pineapple-flavored paste. (Less common but more whimsical shapes include hearts, the island of Taiwan, and cat heads. Fillings may also be complemented with nuts, dried egg yolks, and dried fruit.)

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This page contains all entries posted to The Girl Who Ate Everything in November 2016. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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