Actor, comedian, SNL superstar, screenwriter and director Rob Schneider and I were among the guests invited to attend the “Overseas Quality Restaurant” awards ceremony and cooking demonstration yesterday, Sept. 29 at the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in El Monte.
Awards were given to Taiwanese restaurant owners serving authentic Taiwanese cuisine in the United States and Canada. There are at least 16 restaurants in Southern California that earned a Taiwanese Excellence designation.
After the awards ceremony and before the cooking demonstration, Schneider came over to my table and placed a hand on my back and his friend David, who was sitting next to me. I asked Schneider what was he doing at this Taiwanese luncheon, he replied, “I am a huge fan of the Taiwanese.”
He told me that he is a “rock-star” in Taiwan, because of his movie Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. “Taiwanese have a huge heart and love to laugh.”
When culinary star and chef Theresa Lin, known as “The Julia Child of Taiwan” urged Schneider to come up front during the cooking demonstration of “Chou’s Shrimp Rolls, she gave Schneider a bowl of Chinese leeks and told him to take a hand full. “This is Chinese Viagra,” she said with a giggle. “Your wife will be very busy tonight.” The guests laughed with Schneider.
After the demonstration, Schneider and I sat down at our assigned round table to enjoy some of Schneider’s favorite Taiwanese food. The nine course lunch included:
First course – Dried mulberries, mango and Roselle – a species of Hibiscus native to West Africa. China is one of the largest producers of Roselle. The Taiwanese like to make the red color Roselle into a tea for its health benefits to the stomach, liver and kidneys.
Second course – The salty and fishy tasting Mullet roll with slice radish. Third course – A fried bread coffin box made with thick cut bread is dipped in egg, deep-fried, cut along three sides, opened and filled with shrimp, chicken and a variety vegetables.
Fourth course – Chou’s shrimp roll wrapped in tofu paper and fried in canola oil and served with young ginger.
Fifth course – a popular Southern Chinese dish – fish ball soup made with fish, flour and flavorings in a clear broth with lettuce.
Sixth course – Taiwan’s beef noodle soup with very thin, long noodles. The history of this dish is over 100 years. During Typhoon season in Taiwan from June to September, fisherman can’t fish in the ocean, so everyone eats these delicious noodles. “This is pure comfort food,” said Brad Shih, Director of Taiwan Tourism Bureau Los Angeles, as he reached over to enjoy another bowl. This dish was enhanced with refreshing cilantro.
Seventh course – Eel with noodles. Eighth course – Congee was served. It’s a thick rice porridge popular in Taiwan. It is most often served with side dishes, such as meat, fish, and flavorings and easy to digest. This one had fish with its skin.
Also a plate of sliced watermelon, strawberries and pineapple were delivered to the table before the lunch was over.
Whew! What a delicious lunch! Thank you Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles and Taiwan Tourism Bureau Los Angeles.