Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Taiwanese Experience

Over the past few weeks, we have had the opportunity to spend some time outside of the classroom with a few of our students.

Near the end of my first adult course, the students asked if they could take me out for “hot pot.” Hot pot, though not traditionally Taiwanese, is a modern traditional fall and winter meal. Families gather around a boiling pot of broth and dip a number of meats, vegetables, tofu, and some other interesting things into the pot. These items are left to cook for a bit – while you talk and enjoy the company – then when finished, are dipped out and eaten.

(the "hot pot")

We enjoyed some great fellowship and an interesting learning experience at a local hot pot restaurant called 小發牛 ("pronounced "Shao Fae Neo”) or “Little Fat Cow.” We were joined by three Taiwanese (2 of my students and one boy friend) and for our first hot pot experience had a split pot of both a spicy broth and a normal (not spicy) broth. During the meal prune juice is served as it helps to cool your mouth after eating the very spicy hot pot (spicy hot pot is actually a Mongolian thing).

(because it's a shared meal, there are special chopsticks and spoons used to retrieve your foods from the both)

(the meat is cut quite thin - like deli meat - an
d cooks very fast in the boiling broth)

We spent nearly three hours eating a variety of beef, pork, mutton, different fish pasts (you scoop out some and throw it in the broth and it turns into a meat ball), meatballs, cabbage, mushrooms (okay, I didn’t, but Dan did!), sponge (yes, it’s a vegetable) and many others. Over all it was a fabulous evening and a great experience.

(the end. We used nearly two pots full of broth by then end of the meal - the waitress comes by with a large teapot filled with broth to refill the pot periodically)

Then, this past weekend one of Dan’s students invited us over for dinner at his new apartment. He and his girlfriend (who will be married this winter) live in Jhubei which is over the river from where we live. We met at Costco and they drove us to their apartment. For dinner Alice made 5 different dishes and a soup that were eaten over rice. The dishes were delicious and ranged from tofu, chicken, pork, and two leafy vegetables cooked with garlic. The soup, a basic broth with mushrooms and chicken was also delicious. We shared a bottle of wine and ended the evening with a cup of coffee made special by Tom. His coffee skills are quite amazing and he makes a rather sour coffee that Dan enjoyed! (unfortunately, no pictures from this experience)

We’ve been lucky to enjoy some more leisure time getting to know some of the local people. Recently we’ve started new classes that require a taxi ride to the company and I’ve been able to get to know some other teachers (both Taiwanese but studied in America and now teach English). Both of which have offered to take Dan and I out or even take us to Costco to get some CHEESE!!

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