Choosing an EFL Destination: Food in Taiwan vs Food in Thailand
If you want to teach English as a Second or Foreign language in a country that is not your own, your decision will be based on quite a few factors. You might look at:
- The culture of the country, including the history, language, and religion perhaps
- The overall safety of a country (because who wants to live somewhere dangerous?)
- How expensive is cost of living in comparison to what you may earn
- Any possible benefits you may get or may not get
- Holidays and if you have to work on weekends
Another important factor might be how tasty is the food in the country because you do need to eat after all. And who wants to live in a country where the food is unappealing (even though you may be wrong on this account). If you are a foodie, the food opportunities and food that you can sample will definitely play a deciding role in your ESL country.
Let’s look at some popular Asian ESL country choices: Taiwan and Thailand. The food (tasty and delicious ones, of course) will help make this decision easier.
First up is Taiwan.
Food in Taiwan
Just doing a quick search on Google for “food in Taiwan” gets you this: 45 Taiwanese foods we can’t live without along with a quick summary. Besides introducing you to the foods, this article is also helpful because it even gives you the Mandarin name in writing for the food, making ordering at your local restaurant so much easier. We’ll look at the most popular choices and the ones that I personally like (though I am a picky eater, so you naturally need to take this with a grain of salt, but I try to be fair).
Choice #1: Bubble Tea (珍珠奶茶) or Any Drink from CoCo
This choice is absolutely delicious, as are the many drinks you can choose from at CoCo. What makes it so great? Well, it is basically just tea with milk (and you can get it in many tea flavours such as taro-flavoured tea, green tea, etc.), but the special part is the tapioca balls.
Coco is also special because you can choose how much ice you want (more on a hot and humid summer’s day) and how sweet you want your drink to be. My absolute favourite was the blueberry-flavoured drink with tapioca balls and aloe jellies.
Choice #2: Fried (or Popcorn) Chicken (鹽酥雞)
Popcorn chicken is really just chicken that is cut into small pieces; one piece equals one bite. These are sometimes marinated or just submerged into batter and then fried. They are quite delicious, come in different flavours. The best thing about it? You can buy them from a 7-Eleven, have it warmed up there, and eat it as a snack on-the-go. (Don’t worry, 7-Eleven is remarkably good in Taiwan.)
Choice# 3: Pineapple Cake (鳳梨酥)
Pineapple cake, a pastry with sweet (candied) pineapple, is one of the country’s most sought-after souvenirs at airports. More than just being a souvenir, these make for a good sweet treat every now and again for those who are health conscious. It is also a Taiwanese wedding tradition, where a wedding cake has six flavours, one of them being pineapple.
Want to learn more about Taiwan? Click here.
Food in Thailand
The Google search for this topic mostly revealed the top 10 foods in Thailand and even a similar article to the one about Taiwan – “40 Thai foods we can’t live without.” Here are my favourite three.
Choice #1: Pad Thai
This is just as popular outside of Thailand as it is inside the country. For those who might not know, Pad Thai includes noodles (as most Thai cuisine does) that are stir fried with other ingredients like tofu, peanuts, fish sauce and lime juice, garlic, bean sprouts and even spring onion. The reason this is my favourite is the incorporation of peanuts into the meal. Other options also include the chicken or even shrimp variety.
If you have a sweet tooth, I would definitely recommend sampling Sang Kaya Fug Tong. This dessert comprises pumpkin and custard; you may think what a weird combination, but it truly works. All the seeds are taken out of the pumpkin and it is then filled with a coconut cream-flavoured custard. Once that custard has set, the pumpkin are pizza-sliced, and some candied pumpkin is added. Simple delicious is all I can say.
Choice #3: Tom Kha Kai
While this is choice number three here, it is definitely my favourite of the three. Tom Kha Kai is chicken in coconut soup. The ingredients typically include a garlic-type aromatic called galangal, shallots, lemongrass and chicken. Moreover, chillies are infused in the coconut soup, and the coconut softens the spicy chillies to make for a lovely mild taste.
Interested in Thailand? Click here.
The Final Choice
Just from comparing some Taiwanese and Thai cuisine (and we didn’t even get to the half of it), making your decision to teach ESL in one of these countries (or any other one for that matter) should maybe not be solely based on food alone as there are many delicious options on offer. My suggestion would be, if you are a true foodie, to do research of the food in the country, as well as other factors like those mentioned in the starting paragraph. Moreover, you might even want to sample food from those neighbouring countries, and travel while in Asia is quite easy and affordable, too. So, don’t worry if you live in one country and want to try food from another region nearby – more food options is just a long weekend or holiday away!
About the Author
Denine Walters is currently a freelance writer, editor/proofreader and ESL teacher. Previously, she taught online English lessons to students from all around the world and, before that, she lived and taught English to young learners in Taiwan. In her free time, she likes to read, do scrapbooking and grammar quizzes, and travel. For her educational background, she has an MA in Politics, with a dissertation written on post-conflict peacebuilding, a BA Journalism degree, a TEFL and CELTA certificate, and also a few certificates in various other short courses.