Are the Lunchboxes Made for Every Rail Line Made by the Same Restaurant?
"便當" 一詞轉譯自日語的 "駅弁" (音讀eki-ban), 是指一種便於攜帶的盒裝餐盒. 不曉得從什麼時候開始, 列車上或車站月台周邊開始賣起這類餐盒, 貼心的服務讓往來旅客免於受飢腸轆轆之苦. The [Chinese] word "lunchbox" is taken from the Japanese "eki-ban," referring to a type of portable lunchbox. It's not clear when the practice started, but [at some point the railway administration] began selling this type of lunchbox on trains and near platforms for the benefit of hungry travelers.
那麼, 究竟是鐵路便當本身美味十足令人食指大動, 還是在火車上吃便當別有一番風味而特別讓人難以忘懷? 這答案或許見仁見智, 但不少人認為在列車上享用便當, 不只能填飽肚腹, 還能欣賞車窗外風情萬千的景緻, 可說是最值回票價的景觀餐廳呢! So then, is it because the railway lunchboxes are so delicious that people feel compelled to eat them? Or is it something else about the experience of eating a lunchbox on a train, something that makes [these lunchboxes] hard to forget? The answer is a matter of opinion, but many people feel that eating a lunchbox on a train doesn't just fill your belly, but also affords you the opportunity to truly enjoy the scenery beyond your window. It could be said that this culinary experience is well worth the price of a ticket!
台鐵的鐵路便當, 由餐旅服務總所直轄的台北, 台中, 高雄鐵路餐廳與七堵車勤服務部, 花蓮分部等五處負責, 每天供應大量熱騰騰的便當, 於列車上或車站內販售. The TRA* lunchbox service is handled by railway food service departments in Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, and Chi Du, and also by five districts responsible to the [food service] branch in Hualien. These places provide many lunchboxes for sale on trains or platforms every day.
台鐵鐵路便當以親民的價格與獨持的調味, 抓住許多乘客或饕客的心與胃, 一試成主顧的大有人在! 想大量訂購也沒有問題, 還可選擇外送服務. The distinctive [Taiwanese] taste and character of the TRA lunchboxes finds a place in many travelers' hearts. One taste is all it takes! If you want to order many of them it's no problem. And you can also have them delivered!
不同於台鐵的親民路線, 高鐵便當走精緻簡約風格, 多在特定時段的高鐵列車與高鐵車站內提供高鐵便當販售, 同樣能讓搭乘的旅客搭配車窗景致享用. Unlike the more intimate routes followed by the TRA [lunchboxes], the lunchboxes offered on the HSR** lines are simpler and more refined. Most of them are only sold during set times on the HSR trains or in the HSR stations. They can also be enjoyed by passengers admiring the scenery outside their windows.
除了列車與車站內販賣的便當, 早年車站的月台上還有由民間業者於特定車站月台上販售的便當, 旅客能在搭車前或者短暫停車時間向服務人員購買, 成為當時台灣鐵路上特殊的鐵道人文景色. 如貢寮, 福隆, 池上, 關山站與阿里山上的奮起湖站, 目前仍有鐵路便當為特色美食代表. Aside from lunchboxes sold on the train or in the stations, from early on the platforms have hosted local salespeople selling lunchboxes during set times. Travelers can purchase [lunchboxes] from these [salespeople] before boarding trains, or while trains have come to a stop. These [local salespeople] have become part of the TRA travel experience. There are still purveyors of special lunchboxes at Gong Liao, Fu Loong, Chr Shang, Guanshan and Fun Chi Hu (Alishan) Stations.
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*TRA = Taiwan Railways Administration
**HSR = High Speed Rail
NOTE: Speaking as a foreign person, I have never really understood the affection some Taiwanese people have for these lunchboxes. I think it's more about growing up in Taiwan, and all the memories associated with eating them. I encourage foreign travelers and recent transplants to try them, but they're not going to blow your mind or anything.