Tue, Jul 05, 2011 - Page 8 News List


Thrown into the frying pan

In regards to an article that recently appeared in your newspaper about an American blogger — and as the actual blogger mentioned in the article — I would like to add my two cents about the backstory (“American blogger on CNN sparks ‘pi dan’ brouhaha,” July 1, page 4).

I need to explain that I originally posted my CNN iReport video about trying to eat a pi dan in April, after CNN asked readers to send in video stories about the most revolting foods they had ever eaten anywhere in the world. Since I had just tried to eat “century eggs” that I had purchased at a local Asian supermarket here in Texas, I sent in a brief iReport on the subject.

Fast forward to this month and I can report that my blog has received more traffic than ever. However, people in Taiwan should know that CNN, on its own initiative, added my April iReport to a special section about the world’s most disgusting foods and my report about century eggs was the first one on the list. It is important to note that I never once mentioned “Taiwan” in my video report, nor did I ever criticize Taiwanese foods or Taiwanese. In fact, my godmother who lives in California is Taiwanese.

So, imagine my surprise when I saw the Taipei Times article online, translated from the Liberty Times, calling me all sorts of names, with one Taiwanese food blogger calling me “ridiculous,” and a Democratic Progressive Party politician even going so far as to say that “Americans are chicken-hearted” and apparently lumping me into that bracket.

I also received many angry e-mails and comments from people calling Americans “fat xenophobes with terrible dietary habits.”

And that was one of the nicer comments.

So I want to apologize to the people of Taiwan if my video caused a brouhaha. That was never my intention. Although I did not enjoy the pi dan, I meant no disrespect to Taiwanese or their culture. If you knew me, you would know that I like to eat traditional Chinese and Taiwanese food very much and it is one of my dreams to visit Taiwan someday and see — and taste — your country’s culinary delights.

The response last week to my CNN video was like riding a roller coaster. I went from the initial excitement of having my blog mentioned on CNN to the experience of being vilified on international discussion boards, denounced by a Taiwanese legislator and receiving e-mails calling me “an ignorant racist” and worse.

All I was trying to do with my pi dan story was to present something that I felt was fun. To those critics in Taiwan who got so angry at me for not being able to stomach century eggs from my kitchen in Texas, I hope they can gain some perspective now. It is not like I committed an act of violence. My sin was trying some strange-tasting eggs and not enjoying them.

Okay, maybe I did not eat pi dan the correct way. Taiwanese food critic Tao Li-jun (陶禮君) said I probably had eaten the century egg without any condiments. Guilty as charged. Had I known what I know now, thanks to Tao, I would have prepared the pi dan with diced scallion, sesame oil or soy sauce. And to Taiwanese gastronomist Fei Chi (費奇), maybe she is right that the reason I did not enjoy my first experience with a century egg from an Asian supermarket was because I did not know how to appreciate its taste.

Now I know better and if I get a chance to visit Taiwan in the future, I will look forward to sampling some real pi dan dishes prepared by real Taiwanese chefs.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top