Notes from Taiwan, High School Friends

Before losing our Internet connection, Y and I spent two days hanging out with her high school friends.

On Sunday, January 2, we went out to a vegetarian place with Y’s friends Amy, Hwang, Kevin, Anita, Ethan, Russell, Samuel, and Melissa. The restaurant was once a building in China that its owner had disassembled and reassembled in Taiwan. I wrote about this previously here.

On Monday, Y and I went to Taipei for shopping and then dinner with her friends at a posh hot pot restaurant. I snagged a memory card reader and flash drive for unbelievably low prices. I wanted to buy an Intel SSD drive for my MacBook, but the shop owner very honestly warned me that they do have a small percentage dead-on-arrival rate. I had thought about that before, but when I was holding the cash to pay for it, I had second thoughts and decided to not buy it. Instead, Y and I put that money to good use buying her Simplified Chinese history text books that were imported from mainland China. She will use these in her dissertation.

At dinner, we met up with Amy, her boyfriend Cesar, Ethan, Song, Jim, Anita, Samuel, and Kevin for dinner. This was the first time that I had tried hot pot. Each table in the restaurant has one or two electric burners built into the table. The staff bring out large bowls of soup and place them on the burners. These heat up and then you put in the meats and vegetables that you want to eat from separate dishes. We had duck blood, tofu, pork, mushrooms, fried things (its just fried breading), and beef. The largest pot had a spicy soup, and the second pot had a metal yin-and-yang divider running down the middle separating the medium spicy and least spicy soups. Kevin and I shared two bottles of Taiwan beer, which we had promised to do from the previous day. After a delicious dinner, Jim nearly forgot to give everyone a cream puff pastry that he had bought from one of the best bakeries in Taipei. These were even better than the puffs that I had enjoyed in Y’s grandmother’s town.

After dinner, Ethan was kind enough to give us and Anita a ride home. This saved us a lot of time, because we would have needed to take a cab back to the subway, the subway to the train station, a train back to Jhongli, and finally, the walk from the train station back to Y’s parents’ house.

Notes from Taiwan, More on Food

Y, her family, and her friends have all been introducing me to many wonderful foods during my visit in Taiwan.

Yesterday, Y and I joined her high school friends at a popular vegetarian restaurant between Taoyaun and Jhongli. This was a very peaceful setting for our lunch, because it was a traditional style house imported from China. The owner loved the house so much that he bought it, had it disassembled, and then reassembled in Taiwan complete with Buddhist statues. There is no menu at the restaurant. Instead, they prepare a number of different courses each day. Much of the food was spicy including a tiny salad with wasabi and spicy cabbage that we ate with purple rice. I particularly enjoyed the sweet and raw tofu.

After a visit to a local temple where I took many photographs, we all visited Anita’s flat in Taoyaun. After snacking on peacock cookies and shrimp flavored crisps, Anita brought us snacks from a local restaurant. This was my first time eating pork intestines with noodles, stinky tofu, chicken ass, chicken heart, and other fried chicken parts. Besides the smell of the stinky tofu, I loved it all. I am amazed at how we don’t enjoy these kinds of food in the States. There is much that we waste that we should eat. The Taiwanese do not waste their food–not because they are necessarily trying to be efficient, but because these American neglected food parts are so damn good.