It is Thursday – a day to celebrate your life, your community and all the joys of living!
Let’s start talking Taiwan again. I’m nearly done with the photographic journey of my visit to this mountainous Asian isle. Below are pictures from Mr. Beard Bakery – a European style bakery located near my cousin Maddie’s first residence in Taipei. While I was somewhat familiar with Chinese style breads and pastries from various visits to various Chinatowns in the U.S., I did not expect to find European style breads in Taiwan.
Heck, I can’t find many of what I would call “European style” breads in Sicily! There is not a multigrain to be found, here. Semolina? Sure! Pecan flaxseed? Not so much. Besides my amazing family, darling colleagues, and the Olympic Mountains, Tom Douglas*’s pecan flaxseed bread from the Dahlia Bakery is probably the thing I miss most about Seattle.
Whereas Sicilian breads are lacking in grain diversity and flavor variety, Taiwanese bread choices are flush in both. Mr. Beard Bakery had a wide variety of European style breads, a dizzying array of grains, loaf shapes and flavors, as well as hybrid Euro-Asian offerings.
The chocolate chocolate bread was divine (second photo down in the link), a chewy crust with a cupcake-like inner soft core, the bread was a chocolate rush without being too sweet to eat another bite. And another bite. I ate half the loaf immediately. Did I mention these bites were punctuated by chocolate chips hidden in the dough? Yes. Those chocolate chips alternately stayed firm and melted just enough to create a rich chocolate vein. It was spectacular!
I also tried a sort of sourdough loaf with red bean paste filling, an example of the Euro-Asian hybrid. Red bean paste dessert wontons were one of my favorite desserts ever, thank you Muramoto! They led me to sample other red bean paste delicacies in a variety of settings and styles, with almost uniform results of enjoyment. Mr. Beard Bakery did not disappoint me, either.
The buns wrapped in plastic are other Euro-Asian hybrids, mimicking the Chinese style of stuffing creative fillings into bread. Since my first experience of this was a pork bun, I have called them “pork buns” ever since, no matter what the filling is.
Many cultures came up with the basic idea of a pork bun, which provided an edible carrying case for a high-protein filling. The carrying case is often a carb (bread, rice, etc.) that holds seasoned meats or vegetables. These portable meals were vital to manual laborers who worked far from home and could not return home for lunch, and did not have a snack shop nearby. The arancino is the pork bun of Sicily.
As you can see from the Mr. Beard Bakery photos, it was a magical place full of delectable baked goods. Per usual in Taiwan, the staff were also impressively friendly and gracious. While Mr. Beard Bakery is a unique bakery, the European style bakeries were everywhere in Taiwan. Yet another reason to stop what you’re doing right now and start planning your vacation to Taiwan.