Discover Taiwan, The Beautiful Island

"Beware the person with a Buddha's mouth and a snake's heart." -Chinese proverb It was with stealth that the 228 Massacre struck Taiwan, ushering in decades of sorrow. The three numbers together, 2-2-8, now hold horrific memories for many Taiwanese. The importance of this date and the ensuing dark time period can be found in my article, "228 In Today's World." What is so significant about the massacre and the White Terror era is its destruction of the minds of a beautiful country. There's a … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Sea Salt Drinks

Sea salt drinks: beverages topped with sea salt, typically using tea or coffee That's right. Salty coffee and tea is all the rage in Taiwan. Introduced by the chefs at 85C Bakery Cafe (85°C  is supposed to be the ideal temperature at which to brew coffee), the salty foam on top of the beverage encourages sequential tasting. In fact, it's supposed to appeal to multiple taste buds, providing a fuller drinking experience. The flavors your tongue longs for are: sweet, sour, bitter, salt, … [Read more...]

Reading at a Senior Home: One Elder’s Reaction

"A single spark can set a prairie on fire." -Chinese proverb This saying, although centuries old, is closely associated with an essay entitled, "A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire," by Mao Zedong. In his document dated January 5, 1930, he talks about his idea to win over the masses and ensure a successful revolution. He urged the conquest of rural areas and having "an armed independent regime of workers and peasants" before surrounding the cities and taking over the government. His tactics … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao: Chinese soup dumplings a.k.a. "exploding meatball dumplings" This is what my brother called them when I first tried the dumplings, and the nickname's stuck in my head. It's true, too. If you pop the whole thing in your mouth, the soup underneath the skin sprays right out and scalds your throat. Over the years, I've acquired the proper skill to eat xiao long bao. You need to hold the dumpling over a spoon, bite a small piece of it, suck out the juice, and then eat. For … [Read more...]

Take a Breather

Do not climb a tree to look for fish. -A Chinese proverb Climb a tree to immerse yourself in beauty. Prior to my new book's release, I went on a trip to the Kings Canyon National Park to see the giant sequoias. The trees are so massive that, at first, some people thought photos of them were a hoax. I'm glad I got a breather because once release date came around, the panic arrived. Despite the technological age, I don't exhibit any computer wizardry. That's why I hired Izzy Design to … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Taiwanese Sausage

Taiwanese sausage: a plump and tender sausageUnlike the dried and harder Cantonese version, Taiwanese sausages are juicier (probably because they use fatty pork). They hold a sweet flavor and may be called "fragrant" sausages. Fresh pork is used, and in Taiwan, local butchers will sell them. They can also be made directly at home. Taiwanese night markets also boast a special variety, known as the double sausage. This is a "small sausage wrapped in a big sausage," which consists of a smaller pork … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Shaved Ice

Shaved ice: a mound of crushed coolness drizzled with sweet syrup and tasty toppingsMy first experience with shaved ice came from one of those stands that distribute foam cups with ice chunks and watered-down fruit flavors. Later, I discovered the joys of shaved ice, Asian-style. This means not just one flavor but multiple ingredients piled on top until the goodness threatens to overflow the bowl. In Malaysia, they serve ice kacang. Typically, four to five ingredients (I personally like corn and … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Plum Chicken

Plum chicken: whole chicken basted in plum sauce, a local specialty in TaiwanI've only experienced plum chicken in Taiwan (see my guest travel post about Hualien). The tender fruit-flavored meat falls right off the bone. Paired with a spectacular view from the restaurant's mountaintop, it's a feast for the eyes and the tongue.   … [Read more...]

Topics for New Post

Yatyahn Dakdouh, Gai'hyun Gaai Sing: family and friends also benefit when one encounters good fortuneThere's a legend about Lauh Ngon, the Prince of Waaih Naahm during the early years of the Han dynasty. He was involved in Taoist cults because he wanted to become immortal. One day, eight old men visited him and taught Lauh Ngon how to refine cinnabar. He swallowed the cinnabar and flew into the sky, immortal. After eating the crumbs of the cinnabar left at the house, Lauh Ngon's hens and dogs … [Read more...]

Our Fears

Gengcheng: frightened, scaredThe Chinese use lion dancing to celebrate many special holidays and festivities.  Businessmen believe a lion  will bring them prosperity, so they hang up a cheng (lit. green), a stalk of vegetable with a red envelope as a prize.  With gongs and drums in the background , the lion dancers will reach for the cheng, sometimes with one man standing on the shoulders of the other.  The expression gengcheng comes from the spectators being afraid that the dancers will … [Read more...]