Sunday, September 21, 2008

A "duck"-ful day...

So after a what seemed to be a short 13 hour flight, I'm now here safely in the still-way-too-hot-and-humid Taipei. Actually, it's not that bad, totally bearable unlike middle of the summer would be. Every time I come back, I'm filled with apprehension. I'm worried that I've lost my language... lost my ability to connect with people here, lost connection to my friends... All totally unfounded, but it is just a bit daunting for me to suddenly be thrown in a pure Chinese world where the "hip" culture moves faster than the latest boy band craze and new words are introduced and retired on a monthly basis it seems. Always something new when I come back, always a moment of disconnect before my brain adjusts to this new world that I call home. But as soon as my brain adjusts, I feel right at home... this is... home. When I walk out on to the streets, I feel... comfortable, I feel at ease, perhaps even more so than walking on the streets of LA or Irvine. This is the soil I grew up on... this is the air I've breathed as a kid... the same polluted smoggy, humid, suffocating air. Walking along the streets, seeing all these shops, they are all just as familiar as if I was just walked past them yesterday. In some ways, I almost feel safer walking through the heart of Taipei in the middle of the night than walking in say, Santa Monica or LA at night (Irvine doesn't count because there's not a soul out there past 10). And then when I meet up with my childhood friend, it is as if I never left. Same familiar smiles, same taunts, jokes, laughs... same warm feeling that puts me at ease.  I feel connected to them in ways I can never quite experience in the US. They see a side of me that no one will see in the states, and perhaps it just means that no one there will ever know the true me deep down inside... They are truly my brothers, 我的死黨 我的哥兒們.  And it is in that instant that I am reminded of what my culture and my language means to me. I am without a doubt, far more Chinese than I will ever be American. In fact, if people ask, I will never hesitate to proudly answer "我是中國人 (台灣來的中國人) - I am Chinese  (from Taiwan)". I feel as if I have to hold on to my language for dear life, I am worried that if I ever lost the ability to communicate in Mandarin, whether it is in writing, or in speech, that I'd stop being "Chinese"... and I'd never feel "home" again. 你董我的意識嗎? 你能諒解嗎? 在美國住的我就像一個沒有根的流浪漢, 永遠沒有一個家可以回.

Anyways, I digress. My friends decided to treat me out to Peking Duck for lunch! Partly because good Peking duck is harder to come by in Southern California (oh but they are far easier to find there than any where else in the states I think) but also because he figured I'd want to take photos of it.  How absolutely thoughtful of them! Here are some photos:

This is a special Tofu dish they had there, forget the exact name but it was really good! It is tofu with shrimp eggs (that's what those little specks are).

For those of you who have never ordered fish at a Chinese restaurant... you should know that Chinese serves fish whole, with the head and fins... (eating the head often requires quite a bit of skill but can be very rewarding - the meat at the gills area is most excellent). Anyways, this particular fish is cooked with a light soy sauce with a touch of sweetness and the typical spices - ginger, scallion, chili pepper.

Here the full duck is shown to the customers before slicing it up for 2 courses (the wrap + soup).

Ah... good Peking duck served with a "tortilla", special sauce, scallion and the meat + skin of the duck. Just pile it into the tortilla and roll it up for some awesome greasy duck goodness (this particular restaurant was more oily than what I'd really want..., but not bad at all).
Anyways, through some weird twist of fate... my grandparents decided to take me out to dinner too... and guess what they wanted to treat me to... yep! You guessed it, more Peking Duck o.O||. 2 Peking Duck feast in one day... I couldn't exactly turn either of them down... so I had to eat more duck... haha. I guess that's my Peking Duck quota for the year :-p. 

Sorry, I'm not particularly artistic when it comes to food photos, or decorating my food to make it look presentable :p. But rest assured it tasted great!

We also ordered some lettuce wrap for dinner... Man, it is the first day and I'm already stuffing myself full of great food! I don't even want to know how many pounds I'll gain on this trip....

Of course no day is complete without some karaoking which probably kept me awake through the afternoon... KTV - the best way to overcome jet lag haha. Ah, it's is good to be home. 我終於回家了