Somehow, I keep gravitating towards reading Chinese books centered around food. Not recipes. But stories. Often, I like to read about food more than I want to eat it. Am a fan of Jiao Tung's stories, and have read all the other titles on Taiwanese food under “台灣味道三部曲”. Found an unread book in the pile of another of Jiao Tung's novels, loosely translated (mine) into 'The World of Gluttony'.
20 chapters in this book covered topics from vegetarian food to packed meals, pig's trotters, beef noodles, fried rice, Hainanese chicken rice, alcohol, to fish and peach blossoms. The author truly loves his food and wine. He spoke about weight issues, even attending an 'exercise camp' only to run away from it because it provided food he didn't like. The last chapter spoke of his adoption of a healthy well-balanced diet, cutting down on alcohol and meat, and consciously cooking with less oil, salt and sugar. Sadly, that was done only when his wife took ill and he was plagued with health issues. 年輕時往往揮霍健康，常亂吃一些垃圾食物、危險食物；當年紀漸長，消化系統變得遲緩，卻平添許多飲食禁忌。
The book spoke about hotpot (or steamboat, or in Singapore's case, 'battleship') and what Taiwan has in terms of flavors of hotpot. Cheese and chocolate fondue were mentioned. I have a love-hate relationship with hotpot. Am picky about the utensils, ingredients, and soup stock (no curry or spicy mala Sichuan or Chongqing numbing peppers please, and none of that Korean jigae instant noodles, tofu and spam crap). I'm well aware of the significance of reunion dinners of steamboat. The author repeatedly stressed on this concept of 'reunion' and heartwarming feelings of a hotpot meal.
Of course I was curious about the chapter on Hainanese chicken rice. It began with the author's visit to Singapore in 1999. He first ate it at a random kopitiam across from Rendezvous Hotel, and was thoroughly disappointed that it was so...sub-par. Heh. He did enjoy Chatterbox's. He also loved Malaysia's version of chicken rice. And like every other person, he had his all-time favorite chicken rice stall. Melaka's Chung Wah (中華茶室) at Jalan Hang Jebat got his vote. And like every true-blue foodie, he was willing to grab a three-hour ride to and fro Kuala Lumpur to Melaka just for a plate of chicken rice. LOL.