Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) Special - Ita Thao foodtrip [Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 5 “Food from the Thao” - Nov. 7, 2015]


A hungry stomach is a prerequisite for a gastronomic adventure in Ita Thao. The town's name means “We are the people” and a variety of local delicacies and night market food can be tasted here. Whatever that looks interesting grabbed my attention from a spiral barbeque, to rice cooked inside a bamboo to common bubble tea drinks to quench my thirst. Ita Thao is the place to be for those who love food. You need to try the foods here when you go to Sun Moon Lake. Your travel adventure would not be complete without an Ita Thao foodtrip.








Sausages are typical aboriginal food in Taiwan and it was the first food that I ate. A man selling grilled sausages at the end of the 800 meter trail from Sun Moon Lake Ropeway to Ita Thao village welcomed me and invited me try his specialty. Smoke coming out from the grill made me more hungry. My saliva thickened more inside my mouth as I smell the fumes and waited for my food. Aboriginal sausages are usually made of pork since hunting wild boars had been a way of life for the aboriginal people of Taiwan. Aside from sausages, there were also pork barbeque in other stalls.










Young and old tourists were holding a green stick in which a white glutinous rice looking thing was wrapped spirally. It's the Thao mochi and it's made from a type of grain called the fox-tail millet. People from East Asia usually eat this kind of food. Just think of it as another alternative to rice. I was really curious to try one. After my spiral Thao mochi was barbequed, I was asked which flavor I want and they gave it to me with a layer of barbeque sauce.







Another store sells Thao mochi but this time it's in a rectangular shape but I actually didn't know they were made from the same 'secret ingredient' as the spiral Thao mochi. My chat with a Taiwanese friend verified that the dried fox-tail millets that I saw hanging on the stall reminds the buyers that the food being cooked was made of it. I gave my payment to a lady wearing an aboriginal headdress who doesn't speak English but the language barrier didn't stop me from tasting the rectangular Thao mochi. It was made sweet by the lady by applying a coat of sugar.





Bamboo rice was another aboriginal food one can try in Ita Thao. Rice with pork or chicken is packed inside a soft bamboo just right to be held in a hand. It was placed on a steamer with ends covered by some sort of paper or clothing to preserve the freshness. You can have it crack open to eat immediately but I just have it inside a plastic bag. It was my dinner for this Taiwan Day 798.


















Night market foods like the stuffed chicken are best sellers in Ita Thao. It's a simple food reinvented with creativity. Chicken is sliced and vegetables or other stuff like rice will be put inside. Voila! You already have your dinner or lunch. Guabao which I initially thought as 'siopao' is like a burger in a fluffy white bread which is cut open and stuffed with meat and vegetables. Just say jīròu, zhūròu or niúròu, if you want chicken, pork or beef respectively. If you're thirsty, bubble tea drinks are available in Ita Thao.





You will not just enjoy good food in Ita Thao. Sometimes you might see the Thao people performing a dance number at the Ita Thao Pier. 'Thao' actually means people but it is pronounced as 'tao' like in taoism. If my memory serves me right, the languages of the aboriginal people belong to the Austronesian language family in which 'Tagalog' and other dialects in the Philippines belong. 'Tao' [pronounced as ta-o] means human or people in the Philippines so the 'Thao' in Ita Thao should be pronounced as 'Tha-o' to be consistent with its meaning which is people. Ita Thao or Ita Tha-o, whatever it maybe. Taiwan will always be proud to have them. They are the real owners of Sun Moon Lake.










My Travel Buddy had already arrived in Sun Moon Lake and was calling me from time to time as I wander around Ita Thao. He waited for me patiently at Shuishe Pier and to meet him I boarded the ferry boat going to Shuishe Pier for NTD 100. I enjoyed the nice view of Sun Moon Lake while I ate my stuffed chicken. Little that I know that after this Ita Thao foodtrip my tripod will be gone missing. (To be continued...)

THE COMPLETE SUN MOON LAKE SERIES:
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 1 "Journey to the Lake"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 2 "The Invisible Line That the Dragon Wrote"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 3 "Dark Knight" 
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 4 "Rope, Rope and Away"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 5 "Food from the Thao"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 6 "Hello Jiji, Goodbye Tripod"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 7 "Ride your life"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Finale "The Master's Sun" 

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