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One thing that is emblematic of everyday life in Taiwan is the Tatung rice cooker (大同電鍋). In the US, my Mom and Dad still use the same Tatung rice cooker they’ve had ever since they were newlyweds. The Tatung rice cooker (particularly in the classic green and red-orange colors) is so recognizable that Tatung markets miniature souvenir versions, including a key chain (I assume you can’t cook rice with it).

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I finally bought my very own Tatung rice cooker. I know, I know, being an Asian person who doesn’t own a rice cooker is like being a cow with a one-compartment stomach, but my excuse is that my apartment has a really crappy kitchen and we live in a student neighborhood next to a night market with lots of cheap food. I can get a 便當 with chicken, rice and veggies for NT$50 or a big rice roll stuffed with vegetables and tuna for NT$35. I’ve been researching how adjusting my diet can alleviate some of the health issues I’ve been having, however; it seems like I should cut most gluten, sugar, salt and meat from my diet and add as much fiber as possible. Night market food is tasty and cheap, but it’s a gluten-sugar-salt-and-meat fest out there. I can steam vegetables and prepare brown rice with the rice cooker and stir fry a few things on the three-quarters of a gas burner that works on our stove. Yay! I had a hard time choosing between the classic green and the moddish red-orange, but I finally went with the latter because I’ve heard that red-orange stimulates the appetite, and goodness knows, with my diet of nothing but brown rice and veggies, I’ll need all the help I can get.