…and if you’re a red-blooded male, you might consider the two one and the same.
Let’s start with the dessert…the edible one. Er, the ones you can buy. Aw, dammit, I mean the ones that can either be hot or cold.
Now, in my experience, most Chinese (er, Taiwanese, whatever) really dig a combination that involves one of the beans and often taro, but for some reason, I’ve always been a fan of grass jelly, tapioca balls, and glutinous rice balls, as pictured above. You should try whatever appeals to you, experiment with different combinations, until you find your spirit animal. If in the end you end up with all fruits, you should just off yourself.
Some background information on my choice of toppings:
* The tapioca balls are often referred to as “boba” which basically means big breasts. You can imagine why. Moreover, no one but Taiwanese people, and hip non-Taiwanese Americans exposed to the ascension of Taiwanese boba drinks into mainstream coastal culture, calls them “boba.” In China, they’re invariably referred to by their more “civilized” name, “pearls.” Bleh.
* The glutinous rice balls…wait, who the hell came up with this name anyway, glutinous rice balls? Anyway, in Chinese, you can call them “tang yuan” or “xiao tang yuan” or “yuan zi.” They can be made out of different things added to, er, glutinous rice, such as taro (the purple ones), or come in different colors such as red/pink (just added food coloring for your visual delight). These aren’t the ones with red bean or black sesame inside, these are just little balls (heh) of chewy delight. The more “Q” they are, the more delightful.
* Grass jelly. This has been an endless source of befuddlement for me. Whereas I’ve had this all the time while I grew up, it simply cannot be found in China. I just never thought it was a Taiwanese thing, but apparently it is, and that kinda pisses me off. Rage. I’m told that grass jelly is one of those love it or hate it kind of things like Tequila but I think those who hate it obviously suck gonads because it simply rocks your socks off.
I like grass jelly more than tapioca. I could use some now as the weather is getting warmer :)