Its been a while since I wrote about my less-than-adventurous adventures in Taiwan.. so I thought I’d write about some more observations regarding dining establishments I’ve made since moving to ‘The Rock’ (I know Hawaiians like to refer to their island(s) as ‘The Rock’, but trust me.. Hawaii is truly paradise compared to this place.. I don’t even think Sean Connery could help me out here):
I’ve always been a fan of sandwiches.. something about eating with my hands that makes a meal more satisfying.. call me a caveman.. but thats just how it is.. for the record, I just have to say that I would prefer a Togo’s sandwich over a Subway sandwich any day.. but since I have yet to see a Togos in Hsinchu, Subway will do.. the quality of the food is ok.. and by that I mean there was no vomiting or stomach pains after consumption.. one thing that I found quite revolting was the use of ketchup on any and all sandwiches.. disgusting.. ketchup is meant for burgers, fries, and hot dogs (with mustard, just the way I like them from Costco).. first time I had Subway, the lady asked, “everything?” to which I replied, “dwai”.. imagine the horror when I watched her ruin my foot long with an abundance of ketchup.. it made the sandwich really sweet.. the second time I had Subways, I must have told the lady two or three times that I didn’t want ketchup.. another strange thing happened at Subway here.. I tried to order a large drink.. I say tried because ultimately, I was unsuccessful.. when I ordered a large drink, the lady making sandwiches told the cashier in Chinese, “don’t give him a large! we have free refills!” so then the cashier says, “oh, just get a medium, we have refills!” and then the sandwich lady yells, “no! a small is good enough, its free refills!”.. back home, I always got large drinks.. the price difference is usually negligible and it allows me to fill up and take 32-44oz of drink with me in the car, to work, back home, whatever.. lacking the proper language skills, I just accepted the small in defeat.. aside from that, the menu is pretty much the same.. oh, but I went with a local co-worker.. he was revolted at the fact his sandwich was cold.. so he had them microwave it..
I worked at McD when I was 16.. I saw things that no customer of McDonald’s should ever see.. and this was in the US where there are food handling regulations.. so the thought of going to McD here was a little scary at first.. that is until you have your first “cockroach encounter” in Taiwan (my encounter was at a Chinese restaurant.. me and another American co-worker were so freaked we got up and walked away from the cockroach as if the cockroach would jump up and bite us or something.. but apparently, we were the only ones in the restaurant that thought cockroaches in a dining establishment was not ordinary).. anyhow, I’ve had the Big Mac, Filet O’Fish, and McRib.. BM and Fish are the same.. the McRib is offered in two flavors.. American BBQ and Curry.. I wasnt daring enough to try the Curry, but I hear its OK.. the BBQ was the same good ol’ McRib, except that it had lettuce and stuff on it.. for breakfast, they have an Egg Hamburger.. apparently, its a regular hamburger, but substitute the beef/meat patty for an egg.. the fries here are tasty.. same or better than back home, except they are always very salty.. I have to give them props for keeping it consistently salty though.. its tough, I know.. I’ve been there.. they also serve curry over rice and beef stew over rice.. one cool thing though, the pies are deep fried.. like they used to be in the US until they went the healthier route and baked them.. but as we all know, the good stuff is always bad for you.. an ice cream cone is about $0.30 USD.. I think in China, when I was there in 2001, they were either $0.125 USD or $0.25 USD.. and lastly, the happy meal toys are much much better.. around Christmas, I got my daughter a Helloy Kitty wind-up train set.. it came with 4 “stations” (like a train station, railroad crossing, etc), 4 monorail looking locomotives, and Hello Kitty characters, along with 8 sections of track to make an oval track.. they let me buy the whole set so I didnt have to eat McD everyday.. that was cool..
Best part of Fridays is that they have free drink refills, just like back home.. most restaurants here look at you as if you just landed from Mars when you ask if there are free refills.. “free what?”).. the food is OK, but I think the burgers are frozen patties cooked on high heat.. so from the outside, it looks normal, but there’s a distinct ‘line’ where the redness begins and the cooked part begins.. it still tastes OK, better than anything at McD.. all the employees at TGIF at least try to speak English.. McD tries also, but usually, there’s one designated hitter at a McD.. so when they hear you speak English, they tap in the DH and the ordering process starts over in English.. at TGIF, they all try to speak English.. one funny thing, I was there with a local co-worker and he was reading one of those “funny signs” that TGIF would put by the front door.. like “rules of the house” or something.. one of them was “we are not responsible for items you leave behind.. we used to be, but we’re not anymore”.. then another reads something like “all meals must be paid for before leaving the premises, unless you have a Liliputian, then you can pay later”.. something like that.. the dude asked me, “whats that?”.. I had no idea until I looked it up right now (click on link)..
Work still sucks.. but I’ve been loosening up at work.. trying to infuse this company with my American humor.. my employee badge never had a picture.. they never took one for me.. so I found one myself, printed it out, and stuck it on my badge.. here are the reactions of people of various cultures:
“Who’s that on your badge?”
“That’s Kunta Kinte.. you know Roots?”
“Yes, I know Roots.. you like Kunta Kinta? Is he a famous actor?”
“No, but I relate to Kunta..”
“Because I was brought to this country and forced to work as a slave..”
“I am understanding now [smiling]”
“Who’s that on your badge? Why is he black?”
“You ever heard of Roots, the movie?”
“Yes, Roots, its about.. about.. American history” (can’t remember the word for slave in Chinese)
“But he doesn’t look like you!”
[unable to adequately explain the symbolism.. I just let it go]
“Are you sure [holding it up to the side of my head]?”
“Yes, you’re not even that dark!”
“What about the eyes? We have the same eyes?”
“Well.. maybe.. but he’s black!”
American Co-Worker With Inadequate American Education
“Who’s that on your badge?”
“Shit dawg, that’s Kunta Kinte!”
“You know, from Roots, Kunta Kinte? He was like the main character?”
“Yeah, about slavery in America, Roots!”
Anyways, thats it for now.. got to go to sleep so I don’t miss the shuttle that takes us to our prison work program..