Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stinky Tofu


I went to Taiwan on my mission. After two months in the mission training center in Provo I left to Taiwan with 19 other missionaries. We were greeted warmly and then sent out on a scavenger hunt to put our newly learned Chinese to the test.

One of the 20 items we were sent out to find and bring back was Chou-Dou-Fu. The exact translation of this is Stinky Bean Curd. I was the first one back with all twenty of my items. I picked up the Stinky Bean Curd last. It wasn't hard to find. I only had to follow the smell of the dairy farm. Quite literally this unique street food smells like cow crap. I had them load it up with the hot sauce, and I hurried back to the mission office in Taipei. This was my first hot meal in Taiwan, and though it smelled horrible. It turned out to be a great way to eat hot-sauce. Fried to a crisp on the outside and tender and chewy on the inside. It gave the chili paste hot-sauce just the right texture.

In Taiwan old men would ride their 3 wheeled bikes through the neighborhoods yelling at the top of their lungs "CHOOOOOOU-DOOOOOOOU-FUUUUUU" and we would run downstairs and buy some. It became a favorite street-food of mine from Taiwan.

Since returning from Taiwan I have not seen it or tasted it or smelled it. For the first couple of years I would pass the dairy farm and smell that similar smell and my mouth would water.

Two weeks ago I was in GuangZhou, China. I walked outside one of my favorite wholesale jewelry markets and I smelled that smell. It was the first time in almost 20 years that I smelled that smell. I couldn't help it. I had to have a serving. It smelled as bad but tasted as good as I remembered. It was a pleasure that I had forgotten. It is so much fun for me to visit China. It feels like going home.


Merrills---according to Allison said...

Ha ha ha, makes me homesick just by reading these words "Chou dou-fu."

Ernest Pratt said...

Allison... That is too funny! Don't you just CRAVE chou dou-fu? To me it's the peppers, and I LOVE it when it's crispy on the outside! It's not the smell. To me it's all about the texture and flavor.