Archive for the 'Food' Category

14
Aug
09

Typhoon Morakot

*Insert apologies for being a bad blog mistress here*

Although I’m not in Taiwan anymore, I have been worried upon hearing the news reports of the mudslides falling on small villages.  We just got through to talk with my aunt in Tainan tonight (the lines in Taipei haven’t been letting us through).  She told me that they are rationing water since there is not very much that is drinkable– the reservoirs have been flooded, and helicopters are dropping food and drinking water where villages in the mountains are supposed to be, but haven’t been able to confirm whether people are still alive there yet.  People are cooking noodles and dumplings instead of rice (rice needs to be rinsed in addition to the water added to cook it).  The cold drinks from 7/11 (No carton/bottle cold teas!?  Unthinkable!)  aren’t available.  Fresh fruit and vegetables on farms were washed away by Morakot, so she said food is pretty expensive right now.  Fortunately, as far as we’ve heard, our family is fine.

Apparently the cities are operating again and the roads and trains are clear and running.

Also, the Taiwanese government is bowing to public pressure to accept whatever foreign aid they can get since they need it… (Refrains from grumpy editorial about political idiocy.)  From what I’ve heard, they could really use more helicopters to try to get to those remote villages.

And if you’ve got change to spare and care to help relief efforts (good karma, anyone?), Tzu Chi is a fantastic Buddhist organization (I remember them being on practically every street corner asking for donations so they could provide assistance after the Chinese earthquake).  Apparently World Vision is also conducting relief efforts in Taiwan as well.

My heart aches for all the beautiful mountain villages we would visit on the weekends or drive past on the highways– their lights glittering on the mountains.  They seem so idyllic– there is usually a main street with a market of yummy touristy food, and depending on the village, you can meet artisans selling things from glass pens to ocarinas (clay whistles).  I miss Taiwan.  My thoughts are with everyone there.

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03
Nov
08

Back in my Swing State!

Now I’m back in the house I grew up in where the trees got all dolled up in gold to welcome me home.

It’s kind of weird being back in a place where I never quite fit.  Things feel smaller somehow (and I haven’t really grown in height probably since sixth grade… Um, yes, I’m that short.)

I ran into one of my middle school teachers when I went to volunteer to get out the vote and she didn’t recognize me (though to be fair, I wasn’t completely sure until I left the building either).  Note to all of my former students that may be reading this– if ever you recognize me and I don’t recognize you– do run back, introduce yourself, and submit yourself for hugs.

Things I miss about Taiwan already:

1.  FOOD.  My mother has been making me yummy food, and my cousins and auntie treated me to some very yummy food too in CA, but it isn’t quite the same.

2.  7/11.  I didn’t realize it, but being able to go anywhere and rely on a 7/11, FamilyMart, or (what’s the pink one’s name again?!  Ack, it’s only been a week and a half post-my whirlwind bye-bye tour and I’ve forgotten!) to be in the immediate vicinity was really convenient.  Gas stations just aren’t the same.

3.  The MRT.  Actually this is a Taipei one, and really if I were in NYC or Boston, I might not miss it as much as I do in the car culture of suburbia, where the closest thing we have to public transit is a bus that stops around four times a day around a mile away.

4.  Not wondering if people are looking at me funny just because I’m… well, rather atypical for the area.  I don’t know if that’s fair to say– considering that it is something I didn’t feel or was oblivious about before.  Arriving in our local airport with its three baggage claims (which is WAY nicer than the in-renovation scariness of LAX.  I know it was almost Halloween when I arrived, but the DANGER and CAUTION strips hanging off of the exposed ceiling were rather odd, and the customs agent didn’t even say “Welcome Home” which is a small thing, but I missed it.  LAX has to be the least foreigner friendly airport — all English signage– even Atlanta had digital signage in the terminal shuttle in Arabic, etc.   LAX was also not friendly or helpful when I got my tea through Agricultural Inspection.  I ended up falling into the conveyor belt with my luggage.   It didn’t give me a very good feeling about coming home.  P was my fun seat neighbor though, and he and his co-workers were really gallant and chivalrous in helping the people around them get their bags, so I knew that there are still friendly Americans.  Sorry, /end LAX rant.)*  Umm…  What was I talking about?  Oh, yes, I know there were heads swiveling when my mom and I reunited and I practiced my Chinese as we left the airport.   But I do (fairly or not) feel an impulse to shrink a bit the way I did when I was in middle school, and school was a dangerous territory considering how much I got picked on.

5.  And most of all– my students, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends, colleagues, and roommates in no particular order.  Hugs to all of you (and I just remembered, I forgot which relative I was supposed to call when I got in safely, sorry…).

* to be fair, the Taoyuan Airport is a bit grey and dry, and I had a nervous moment while they went searching for the “Cancelled” stamp to put on my visa before my 30 day re-entry bit was to begin.  They were pretty polite about it though.

And for my fellow Americans stateside– Tomorrow is Election Day!!!  If you haven’t already voted, GO VOTE!  If you have questions about your registration or what your polling place is or how to volunteer for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, click here…  and hopefully we’ll get to party Tuesday night!

02
Sep
08

Keelung

On a memorable weekend before I left Taipei, my dear cousin took me out to the beach by Keelung.  We drove to a scenic point on the mountain where I had fun with my zoom lens figuring out what people were doing on the shore.

I am guessing that they are checking out a fish, or perhaps a snail.  Or maybe someone dropped a contact…

A little purple wildflower that was all over the mountain where we first stopped to enjoy the view.

Tiny blueberries growing by the side of the road.

We hung out by the tide pools and my cousin and his friend attempted to catch fish with no luck, though they did catch a crab, and a few snails I believe.  We let them all go before we left.

I wonder what they’re looking at.

Something about this picture makes me think of zen.

Dusk on the beach.

The fishing boats all have these garlands of humongous clear light bulbs to illuminate the area around the boat and attract fish.  At night, the boats are independent stars bobbing on the darkness of the ocean on the edge of the horizon.  According to my cousin, one needs a permit to go with a fishing boat out to do deep-sea fishing.  (Thanks go to my cousin for the patience and help in setting up this not-completely blurry shot of the fishing boat at night…  I actually bought a tripod, but just don’t seem to bring it when it turns out I could actually use it…)

Corn dogs.  The one with the orange bit wrapped around it is cheese, and the one with the green bit wrapped around it is wasabi (I think).  I’ve eaten duck tongues, pig feet, and all manner of intriguing cuisine here in Taiwan, but the cheese corn dog ranks as the most disgusting thing I think I have ever eaten.  So much for rebelling against nutritionist-mothers!

I know what you’re all wondering… Would drinking one of those bubbling steamy drinks make steam shoot out of your ears???  Sadly, no.  My friend said it wasn’t half-bad and she got to keep the cup with a steam vent on it.  I think there was dry ice involved…

12
Aug
08

A quick post…

I’m much busier than I thought I would be here in Tainan.  Apparently my Chinese has improved to the point where my aunt can tell me Chinese mythological stories about the gods and goddesses and after a very long time of her explaining every other word to me, I can understand why the lovers are separated by higher powers…

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the celebrations for the children turning 16, and the lunar 7/7 day which always rains at night because the weaver and the cowherd are reuniting on a bridge of birds, and raining tears of joy and sadness.

I also picked (and nibbled) longyen (a fruit directly translated as dragon-eye), gave myself a mini-shower in my first attempt to pump the flooding from the typhoon out of the basement (oh, right, attaching the hose–an excellent idea, and I didn’t actually electrocute myself!), and got a mini-lesson in shufa or Chinese calligraphy from my aunt (well, it’s more like beautiful Chinese printing for my very elementary skills at writing words).

Tainan is hot, but there is oftentimes a small (if also at times warm) breeze floating through the air. 

Oh, and I printed out some of the photos I’ve taken over the years for the very first time, and they turned out well!  It was rather exciting, since they usually sit in my hard drive…

I’ve gotten myself (slightly) lost walking past temples, and through back alleyways which are so narrow one can hear the voices behind the doors chatting in Taiwanese.

My aunt and I stopped by Chikan towers, where there was a quartet of musicians playing traditional Taiwanese songs and children’s music (the theme to Doraemon was one of the ending pieces), in front of a backdrop of beautiful Chinese buildings that I’ll have to go back to shoot photographs of during the day at some point.

My Chinese has improved to the point that people now ask if I’m from Singapore, instead of Japan when they meet me and realize I speak English and Chinese that has possibly progressed from tot to pre-school level.

31
Jul
08

Sorry

I’ve been a bad blog mistress…  shuffling about, getting sick, then drugged to stop being sick (yes, I’ve always felt drugs are bad and avoid them when I can, but for some reason in Taiwan, doctors like giving them, in big sizes or in many pretty colors all at once, and considering that my one special trick seems to be getting sick…  Well, hopefully my kidneys and liver will last!).

I’m also a bad internetter at the moment, being without home internet access, though with access to a very cute (if a rebel against potty training) dog.

The blog will go on (and e-mail, etc. will be caught up)… Once I start figuring things out in my momentary digs.

I’m in that fun phase of life known as “transition: to be defined as being clueless, if charmingly so, when there are many glittering possibilities, and much puzzlement as to what to do with them.”  Fortunately, my family is rallying round me with much yummy food and rallied round me to help me in sleep-deprived, stressed moving mode.

I’m in the South now, and sporting a floppy-brimmed hat.

I wish you all fun and healthy summer adventures!

15
Jun
08

Shucking Oysters

When we wandered around Anping, we ran into the overpowering salty mineral scent of the sea. A quick look showed us that it was coming from these ladies who were shucking oysters, which I can’t think of without the rather well-quoted Ernest Hemingway from A Moveable Feast

I closed up the story in my notebook and put it in my inside pocket and I asked the waiter for a dozen portugaises and a half-carafe of the dry white wine they had there. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

–as quoted by Tom Anderson at This Sphere

I certainly wish I felt happy after writing a story and that anything I wrote was truly good. Maybe I should just eat oysters?

I had no idea oysters would be in huge barnacled clumps.

It certainly looks like work to slip the knife through the gap between the edges of the shell, but not end up cutting the oyster within. They were experts though, smoothly severing the two halves and slipping the flesh out.

Rinsing the oysters.

Also, is it just me, or is there a painting of oyster shuckers by someone famous like Picasso?

29
May
08

A few representative shots from Tainan

Hopefully I’ll get around to really blogging these properly sooner rather than later, but for my colleague who is thinking about showing his buddy around Tainan… Here are some more attractions:

An-Ping otherwise known as Fort Zeelandia (which my cousin, when she took me there, was shocked that I hadn’t seen it before… “What do you DO when you’re here?”

“Uh, family stuff… You know, eat!”

“Oh, right.” Our standing joke is that coming back to Tainan involves significant weight gain in a short period of time because the food is just THAT yummy!)

The fort has a nice twisty staircase and a building with relics inside like ancient swords with those curvy handles whose names are totally escaping me at the moment, but I’m sleep-deprived as usual, so forgive me…

The tree house that has banyan trees growing out of and through it. As well as the merchant house which has exhibits featuring wax figures doing things like gathering salt, signing treaties, and crushing sugar cane.




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