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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wilbeck

First stop after landing at 5:30am with little to no sleep on the 12 hour flight was to head to Wilbeck Coffee, which is my personal world favorite. Kevin roasts the beans in a little copper roaster almost one bean at a time, and the steam milk is a close cousin to whipped cream. Then… Continue reading

palace museum

In November I got an invitation to teach a one-week workshop at the Palace Museum on two diverse subjects: solubility parameters and anoxia.  We decided that the Christmas holiday would be a good fit with Sean’s school and our other work schedules, and Fall is usually nice weather in Taiwan (and that turned out to be true enough: sitting around… Continue reading