Taiwan taste treats: curry doughnuts, taro ice cream

MacDonald's, Swensen's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Foremost Ice Cream, Baskin Robbins, Dreyers Ice Cream, and Wendy's have opened stores in Taiwan within the past year. When local residents exchange chopsticks for spoons and straws, what do they order from the Western menus?

Paul Yeh, the operations manager at Swensen's notes that vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream are favorites here. Turkish coffee and taro flavors are also very popular.

``Butterscotch marble, chocolate malt, chocolate marble -- we don't sell much of these flavors. We Chinese don't care for ice cream which is too sticky or too sweet,''

By way of comparison, the menu at a local Chinese ice cream shop included turnip, great tea, curry, celery, and chili flavored ice cream. (None of these flavors were available at Swensen's!) A local doughnut shop advertises American doughnuts. In addition the shop also sells curry and salty vegetable doughnuts.

The newly opened Western fast food restaurants may introduce some new ideas, but the Chinese here are altering them to suit their own culture. For instance, during a recent trip to MacDonald's this reporter saw a group of young girls enjoying their chocolate milk shakes along with a typical Chinese snack sold by street vendors: marinated chicken claws. A tasty combination!

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