米香

Biking around an older part of Taipei’s 三民 neighborhood I wasn’t too familiar with, on a market street with shops and food vendors, I see an old truck with a raised blue awning parked near the corner of the intersection. It was a shot-from-guns puffed rice treat maker!

He put a scoop of uncooked rice into a cast iron pressure vessel and cook it over a burner for a while, and then suddenly release the pressure with a loud “boom,” capturing the now steaming puffed rice into wire mesh hopper. In the meantime, he had been turning some brown sugar into caramel syrup, which he then combined with the rice in a large aluminum bowl, stirring furiously with a wooden pestle. He then pressed the viscous mass into a shallow wooden frame and flattened the top with a large polished steel roller. Using a sharp knife, and a long wooden ruler which keyed into notches on the sides of the frame, he cut the mass into bricks, all of which he would then stack into a single clear plastic bag for sale.

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