I fell in love with sushi when I was about 11 years old. My family was preparing to move from South Africa to England and we went back to Taiwan to visit relatives before the relocation. It was at a sushi restaurant in Taipei near where my aunt lived that I first tried Sashimi (slices of raw fish) dipped in wasabi (blow-your-socks-off horseradish paste) and light soy. I remember my father telling me that I should hold my breath when eating this way, to avoid breathing in the wasabi which gives a burning pain between the eyes. It was quite a mind-blowing sensation – literally.
I didn’t realize at the time but the Taiwanese are mad about Japanese food. My great-grandparents could speak Mandarin (the national Chinese language), Taiwanese dialect and Japanese. This influence came about because Japan occupied Taiwan for 50 years up until 1945. I’m not sure that the occupation was an entirely happy one but I’m happy to see a fusion of the two cuisines.
© 2006 Ching-He Huang. All rights reserved.