March 8, 2010

Wow, what a busy weekend.

Sometimes, I feel that keeping busy makes the day go by quicker, especially if it a day that you WANT to go by quickly.  Honestly though, who wants the weekend to zip on by?  Surely, not I.  I cherish the though of weekends, even though it really doesn’t mean a lot.  It does mean that I will (normally) have Sunday afternoons/evenings off for ‘free time’, which for me, is like gold.  And speaking of gold, I’ll get to that in a bit…

You may or may not have read that over the next few weeks, or rather months, until July anyway, I have temporarily moved my Saturday and Sunday schedules around.  I’ve moved over a couple of private classes to Sunday, to accommodate Giraffe School in their Story Telling contest.  Don’t get me wrong… I’m not complaining, because quite frankly, I love the idea of helping the potential candidates to win first place in the national contest.  For now though, we have just finished the finalization of the stories, and today the classes will be given the stories along with a recording of the story.

In just over a month, the school competition takes place.  Another month, then the regionals.  After that, the nationals.  We’ve done very well over the past 2 years that I’ve been part of this competition, so I feel that we can do just as good, and hopefully BETTER than in previous years.  Go Giraffe Nanmen!!

Extra things I did this weekend, on top of classes, and privates.  Saturday evening, four friends of mine (Cliff, Rebecca, Vivi, and Andy) and I went to Chia-yi.  Chia-yi is about an hour train ride north of Tainan.  Each year during Lantern Festival (this time of year), a city is chosen as the OFFICIAL HOST CITY for the Lantern Festival.  This year was Chia-yi.  A few years ago, it was Tainan – The Year of the Rooster.  This year being my year, The Year of the Tiger.  The years, for those that are unfamiliar with this, is a 12-year cycle, beginning with the Year of the Rat.  That’s really as much as I know.  I don’t know the order, although I could look it up but too lazy to do so, and somewhere along the way is Tiger.  The next time the Year of the Tiger rolls around, I’ll be 60! [insert sad face with ‘x’ for eyes!]  60… w-o-w (as Jolin would say).

We took the train, and there was a shuttle service to and from the park.  The city’s main park was filled with displays of lanterns and tigers and religious objects and butterflies and trees and, well, you name it, it was probably there.  All of these displays are lit up with little ‘Christmas tree’ lights.  Thousands upon thousands of the little bulbs.  The centerpiece though, is a huge statue that is also lit up (much larger bulbs of course), that rotates every 30 minutes to music.  If you choose to, you can log onto, search for ‘xyvius13’ (my username there), and one video is now displayed.  You can’t really see a whole lot of the tiger itself because of where we were standing, but the the fireworks was the main reason we were where we were.

Since the tiger statue rotates every 30 minutes, we had ample opportunity to see it again and again and again…  I did get one fairly close shot of the statue the last time it rotated that evening.  These videos and pictures of the various displays is posted on my Facebook account.  If you don’t know my Facebook account, let me know.  Also, it would be interesting to know how you found THIS page.

Okay, got back (after being silly and tired on the train) around 00:30, 01:00 by the time I got home.  Cleaned up a few messages, then crashed.  The next day… more classes.  In the evening, I went to another Chinese wedding feast.  This time, I did not go to the actual wedding ceremony.  A former teacher at Giraffe-Nanmen, Dale, got married (Congratulations Dale!).  Janice and Simon took a few of us down in their van, others decided to travel on their own.  Not that far from the school actually – maybe 20 minutes or so.

As with most feasts, food, food, food.  No turtle soup this time, but a lot of seafood.  My favourite dish was something like a lobster sandwich.  OMG, it was delicious!  I think I ate 3 or 4 of these little morsels.  Considering the idea of pulling a head off a scampi (VERY LARGE shrimp), doesn’t appeal to me, abalone and pig cartilage, and black chicken soup, doesn’t quite sit too well on my stomach.  Mind you, I have at least tried these delicacies in the past, and that is why I politely refuse and grab another lobster sandwich.

Along as it can be chewed, fried, sautéed, smothered in a sloppy gravy-type mix, put between bread or sucked up in straw, Taiwan people will truly try anything.  I learned several years ago a little trick.  Now, this works for ME, and may or may not work for you.  And some of my Taiwan friends (NOT ALL, some) agree as well.  What sits well on their palate, will not sit well with me.  What I find delicious, they usually snub nose to.  Case in point:  stinky tofu.  I don’t know who ever thought that fermenting tofu in some hideous, vomitty-smelling mixture, then frying over an open fire, slopping on cabbage and other sauces made of ‘who knows what’, was delicious.  Stranger more, is why it still exists.  I can smell this stuff from 2 or 3 blocks away, depending on the wind.

Kids love to eat noori paper (seaweed paper used to make sushi) like candy.  They eat dried, stripped, and somewhat salty fish.  I usually head to a place called Sing-da Port once in a while, buy it there because it’s cheaper than here in Tainan, and use it as cat treats.  Whenever I see anyone eating it, I call it cat food, and proceed to tell them how much my babies love the stuff.  Will I try it?  Have I tried it?  The answer in both cases, is NO.  I can barely put up with the smell when I open the bag to give it to the cats.  Then, I immediately wash my hands because the lingering odor makes my stomach do flip flops.

I also maintain, that you could open a stall at night market, selling ANYTHING edible, and you’d make a killing.  As long as it can be eaten, they will come.  Just don’t serve anything Western at night market.  No one will come to your stand.

As is tradition at wedding feasts, because each table is served each of the 12 dishes on the menu, whatever is not eaten is, well, I don’t really know what the caterers would do with any food not consumed.  Usually, all they have to do is clean up the trash and collect the plates, etc.  Anyway, tradition is that the guests are permitted to bag up any left over food, and take it home.  Kind of a ‘memento’ of the meal I guess.  I’ve seen where people will go to tables that have dishes but no guests, and literally, dump the food into plastic bags to take home.  Again, I don’t really want to know what some of these people do with the food.

Well, you would have thought I was a Taiwan person last night.  Okay, during the main 11 parts of the menu, there was nothing in particular I would have wanted to take home and eat at a later time.  However, there was a table near us, that no one was at by the time the desserts were served.  Each table is large enough for 10 people to sit at.  Our table had 5.  Anyway, the dessert came, and by the time you get to this part, a lot of the guests have started to leave.  That’s what happened.  One of the teachers took the dessert box for our table, and another teacher gave me the dessert box from the table that had left.  JACKPOT!  Now you’re talking.  Something sweet.

In my opinion, Taiwan bakers do a bang-up job of creating desserts.  They all LOOK super-rich, super-sweet, super-delicious.  However, looks can sometimes be deceiving, especially to a foreigner from Canada, who loves SUGAR!  You don’t know how many bakeries and sweet shops I’ve been to in Taiwan, looking for that elusive, North American sugarized bakery item.  I’m telling you, it just doesn’t exist.  In my humble opinion, they don’t know what the hell sugar is.  It’s like the difference between an American beer FROM America, and a Canadian beer FROM Canada.  You end up getting a stomachache from being bloated long, long before you ever get drunk.

Taiwanese sweets are like that.  I can eat a whole cake, and have a stomachache from being bloated with all that bread and imitation whipped cream, long before I back away from the sugar content.  I think they use about 1/10 the amount of sugar we do in Canada!  You’d almost think, that by Canadian standards, all desserts in Taiwan are diet desserts (oxymoron at its best!!).

Anyhow, I don’t know who the baker is for these desserts, but W-O-W (thanks, Jolin, I’m liking this statement now), they were heaven.  Ten little individual desserts, all different, and all tasting like someone from Canada made them.  I was in heaven.  Cliff mentioned that they wouldn’t last too long if I put them in the refrigerator.  He doesn’t know just how absolutely correct, that statement was!  Notice – the use of past tense.  The wedding feast was last night.  I got home around 10:30 with the desserts.  Here is is, 15 hours later, and there are no more desserts.

Okay, I didn’t eat them ALL myself.  I could have though…

Anyhow, the pictures will be posted on my Facebook sometime today.  The bride wore two very beautiful dresses.  A red dress at the beginning of the evening, then in a blue dress for the ‘second half’ of the night.  Tradition.  Apparently some feasts, the bride changes only once, other times, twice.  Although, I did know one time where the bride changed into 5 different outfits.  Why, I don’t know.  This was a few years ago.  I guess some people like the tradition, and try to set new trends.  Strange though that only the bride changes outfits.  The groom stays dressed the same all night!!


1 Comment

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One response to “March 8, 2010

  1. Pat

    I was born under the sign of the fire rooster.The next time the fire rooster rolls around will be in 2017..the year I turn 60 and yes I will say WOW. But not to fear 60 is the new 30 .

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