While our teammate David Kinsey’s Blog “Have you eaten? (li tsiah pa bue?) is still fresh on my mind and my taste buds, I want to say a few words about my experience and impressions of the Taiwanese cuisine!
The cuisine of Taichung has all the big data characteristics – the volume – they are typically 7+ course meals; the variety goes with it and with such a flair; the velocity with which they set the tables and finally the veracity of the nutrition quotient is pretty good! Here is to you Dmitri!!
The nutrition itself is more protein based such as soups, broths etc., and far less carbohydrates. It also contained many vegetables to my liking – the super thinly sliced cabbages, pearl white mushrooms of all sizes and shapes (Enokitake, Matsutake, Shimeji etc.), squashes and even the bitter melon that was barely bitter. One bowl of sticky rice was a nice addition. I was not a big fan of rice before. But I loved their sticky rice, a small bowl of grains cooked to just perfect softness!
Then there was this ever present, mildly sweet, red bean served in petite portions but in different variations as paste, in soups and in its own natural form. It always found its way to the table like the inevitable ingredient!
The lunches were always group meals. Lunch menus packed with surprising items, steaming hot and made with fresh ingredients. Meats were almost always thinly sliced. I ate fried chicken one time. And it was one medium sized portion chopped into smaller sizes. Perfect! Portion control is what I need!
The palate purifying Saba vinegar with honey was a surprise element to me, even though I was aware of the goodness of the vinegars. Again it was served in a petite vial. Loved it! I begin to wonder now, if it also helped avoid the ‘food coma’ after an afternoon meal.
There was always the quintessential teas of various flavors, fruits, leaves and flowers. It smelled delicious and calmed me nicely! And then, I went and discovered the Ginger soda! Yummm!
On a final note, we all transitioned and adopted the use of chopsticks. We all did very well. Now we can even pick single grains of rice with them! Touch down!
I have my own chopstick set (a gift) that I will carry with me and help nudge the chopstick waste one pair at a time! Thank you Lisa for the tip
The Card exchange
In Taiwan, (and across Asia, I am told by our revered globe trotters on the team), card exchange is a ritual that is done with personal attention, the eye contact, the acknowledgement, with both hands and a bow. It feels professional and very courteous! So it was easy to learn and do.
I will now always share my business cards with purpose, intent and respect. And make the exchange count. Viola!
The cuteness Quotient
What can I say? The cuteness quotient here is ‘off the charts’ to-say-the-least. It is patronized by kids, grownups, pets, of all ages and at all times with an unparalleled dedication. All messages, advertisements, marketing and you name it, is cute. Cuteness factor is embedded in everything and it is omnipresent. The trash cans are oh! So cute; the bus stops are inviting with such cuteness that you want to park your car and take a bus ride.
The restaurants and parks and recreation areas are filled with it to the brim! It is to create a family environment I believe. Well it worked wonders on us! We all stepped down the ladders of adulthood and turned into mirthful more approachable human beings!
They have a bear for everything, for electronic industry, for agriculture, education etc. It is common to see officials wear shirts with bears and dolphins on them and ladies with trendy high fashion clothes carry cute little bags with cuter animals on them. You have to visit Taiwan to see it to believe it!