九份 Jiu Fen (or sometimes scripted as “Jiou Fen“) is a small township perched on the hilly terrains of north-eastern Taiwan. Together with 金瓜石 Jin Gua Shi, 十分 Shi Fen, 瑞芳 Rui Fang and 金山 Jin Shan, Jiu Fen was an important gold mining area more than a century ago. But as the yield decreased over time, the mining activity dwindled and eventually came to a halt. The town quieten down and became mostly forgotten for more than a decade, until 《悲情城市》, a movie set in Jiu Fen by renowned Taiwanese director 侯孝贤 Hou Hsiao-Hsien brought to it the curious crowd from Taipei and other parts of the island state. Even then, more than 20 years has since passed and even 《悲情城市》 too has become forgotten. But the movie left behind for Jiu Fen a tourism legacy. Till today, the small town is packed with local visitors and foreign tourists every weekend. Folks flock here for the fresh mountain air, the scenie view of Keelung Fishery Port and of course, a wide selection of local delights which Jiu Fen is well known for, including草仔粿 mugwort glutinous rice cakes from 阿蘭草仔粿, 鳳梨酥 pineapple cakes from 李儀餅店 and of course the infamous 九份芋圓 Jiu Fen Taro Balls.
潮式芋泥 Teochew Orh Nee or Taro Paste is a dessert that goes back a long way for my family. Unlike the other chinese desserts which my mother would frequently prepare, orh nee was not something which we had often. This is probably because it takes quite a bit of time and effort to make. Its not a dessert commonly seen in the hawker centre dessert stalls too, probably for the same reasons as well. Memories of this dish come from attending wedding banquets, where it is almost customary for it to be served as the last course at a Teochew restaurant. The feelings were somewhat bittersweet, as I’d love to eat orh nee and thus much anticipated for the it to come right at the very end, yet at the same time, couldn’t help but felt dejected, as it would also mark the end of a feast.
如果真的要找出我最喜欢吃的，应该是一摊广东人经营的猪肠粉和芋头糕了。猪肠粉和芋头糕是两样陪我走过无数岁月的传统小吃，真可以说是从小就吃到大。无论是当作早餐还是午后稍稍用来治嘴馋的点心， 都那么适合。虽然把它们当作晚餐的确是有点“怪怪”的。但因为我们喜欢，所以爸妈还是常买来当作晚餐的“配菜”， 要不就打包回家当作宵夜或隔日的早餐。对我而言， 来牛车水而没吃到猪肠粉和芋头糕的话，就等于没来牛车水了。 真所谓入宝山而空手归啊。