When I came across a blog article with the title above, I knew immediately what the author was referring to. The food known in Mandarin Chinese as yóu tiáo 油條, but which in Taiwanese goes by the name 油炸粿, is basically a fried stick of dough, similar to a cruller, but puffy, rather than cake-like. The traditional way of eating it is to wrap it inside a shao bing 燒餅 (a sesame-coated flatbread). I recognized the topic, because it was one of my mom’s favorite foods, and one she had a difficult time finding in New York during the seventies and eighties. When we finally found restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area that offered “shao bing yóu tiáo”, my mom liked to frequent them on weekend mornings, and take myself or one of my sisters.
I miss the days when my mom would get that twinkle in her eye and say we’re going out for breakfast, and we’d end up in Cupertino, at either a diner-like Chinese restaurant (A&J) or at Marina Foods, where she’d order hot soy milk (豆漿 dòu jiāng) and “shao bing yóu tiáo” and insist we eat it the way you’re supposed to, one wrapped inside the other. She’d order the sweetened soy milk, as would I, but my dad always got the salty soy milk (the choice of purists).
For me, it’s the mix of textures, the crunchy yóu tiáo with the soft shao bing that makes this breakfast dish an attraction, and one I haven’t had recently. The blog article is a good reminder that it’s time to make another weekend morning trip to Cupertino.