Sunday, April 15, 2012

matsu's birthday

One of the major historical sites in Lukang is the Tianhou Temple on Zhongshan Road. I like how all the attractions in Lukang are situated in close proximity to each other so if the temple is your last stop you can pretty much hit up all the other major attractions on your way. The area around the temple contains a market which is something I find so characteristic of major temples in Taiwan. I guess locals know that the temples attract a lot of visitors so where better to set up your food stall? Its nice because I don't have to go out of my way to eat local delicacies but is also really annoying when the market place is so close to the temple that it blocks the architecture or makes accessing the doors like walking through a maze...

First food sample at the market was deep-fried mud shrimp. I believe the Chinese name translates to shrimp monkey. Don't get the reference to monkeys. It didn't taste like shrimp but more like a crustacean especially since the shell was still on them. Can get it in several different flavors. I chose garlic and original - both were tasty and got pretty addicting after consuming several.
It cost $120 NT for a small bag which is pretty pricey for street food. But I guess that is what happens when you gotta go catch those shrimps by hand or something. Honestly I spend way more money buying food at day and night markets then if I went to an actual restaurant where I can buy one meal and be full compared to having to buy several sticks and bags of food to fill me up.

Another famous specialty is the thin noodle soup. Mine came with pork but the pork was nasty since it tasted like char siu (the red Chinese BBQ meat) but immersed in a thick soup base. Ughh I am not a big fan of thick soups and the sweet meat covered in a semi-salty soup was a gross contrast. At least it only cost $25 NT for a bowl.
Cow tongue cakes are a well known local food item and not because they are made of cow tongues but because they are shaped like one. Shops were selling them everywhere and I see them being sold in supermarkets and such in my area. But I guess if you want the authentic ones you have to come to Lukang. They aren't anything special just egg and flour with some sugar flavoring? It was so unmemorable I can't even recall how it tasted like!
Tianhou Temple is dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, and many temples in Taiwan are dedicated to her.
Due to the smoke from the incense the statue's face has turned black so Mazu is also called the black-face Goddess.
A special practice in Taiwan is the inspection trips made by the Goddess Mazu. Statues of the Goddess Mazu from various temples are carried around to visit other temples, leading followers along the way. This inspection trip allows for Mazu to exchange greetings and blessings with each other and to allow her to learn and relieve the suffering of her followers. A major inspection trip occurs around Mazu's birthday which happened to be yesterday and so I got to see as a visiting Mazu statue from Taipei came to visit the Tianhou Temple.
this worshiper was wailing and sobbing as she prostrated on the floor
these two kept hitting themselves with lit incense!
the visiting mazu goddess
They had a string of firecrackers meters long that almost blew my ears off. I was standing right in the front so the firecracker pieces were hitting the air all around me. So scared I was gonna get hit with the burning pieces, had to turn around to protect my face. Must be super scary for the men carrying the palanquin to have the firecrackers so close to their feet. 

I've been craving tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) recently so I was jumping at the chance to eat at Ludingji Three-color Rice Balls Shop.
small size for $25 NT
Was hoping to find tangyuan so was disappointed to find that these rice balls were just the sweet potato and taro balls I've had in Jiufen. It tasted good but wasn't the tangyuan I so desperately crave!
tofu pudding, rice balls in purple rice milk for $35 NT
This one didn't taste that awesome. Was glad I didn't try to be adventurous and order the purple rice milk just because it sounded unique. This shop had a lot of English information and maps. Bonus!

The Details
Ludigji Three-color Rice Balls
No. 187, Minquan Rd., Lukang Township
tel: 04-7756268
hours: 10:00 am - 10:30pm

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