Chiayi’s Turkey Rice (Taiwan)

When I crave turkey, not many countries come to mind.  For sure, the US does, for its Thanksgiving meal.  Also, the Yucatán in Mexico, where it’s quite common to find guajolote (“turkey” in Mexican Spanish) on a menu. But, how about Taiwan?

Chiayi (Jiayi-嘉義) - Train Station A few years ago, while on my way to a friend’s wedding, I was visiting Chiayi, a small Taiwanese city sandwiched between Taichung and Tainan, in the central western part of Taiwan.  As far as Taiwanese cities go, it’s quite typical – you’ve got your mopeds and scooters, giant signs, and bustling food markets – but there is one particular food that stands out. Turkey rice, or 火雞飯 (火鸡饭).  Amusingly, turkey in Chinese translates as “fire chicken.”

Chiayi (Jiayi-嘉義) - Turkey Rice (鶏肉飯)

Although turkeys were introduced to present-day Taiwan by Dutch colonists in the 1600s, it was only in the 1950s that they really took off on Chiayi menus.  Apparently, some liaisons with the former Chiayi US air force base were longing for a taste of home, a longing which inspired local chefs to add it to bowls of rice. In Taiwan, I would generally make a beeline for oyster pancakes and pineapple cakes, but the turkey rice proved to be an amusing if unexpected find in the crowded field of Taiwanese specialties.

Author: NoWorkAndAllTravel

Wordpressing about food and languages at, and about travel news and attractions at

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