Cinco de Mayo & Cycling

Fact: Cinco de Mayo is the best foodie holiday to expats living in Asia. Simply put, good Mexican food does not exist here.

The solution?

Pickles preps the carnitas. The local pork is delicious here and it’s the only pork available. Taiwan does not import any USA pork because of the ractopamine in it.

For one night, and one night only, we open the best potluck Mexican restaurant in Taiwan and invite our American (Nike) expat buddies over. This is tradition over here. In the past our friends Patty and Jenny hosted, but Patty recently relocated to South Korea, Jenny back to USA and so we picked up the taco torch and hosted 2018.

The Nike expat crew + spouses currently on overseas assignments (countries include U.S.A., Germany, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa)
Expat/expatriate: a person who lives outside their native country.
Pickles making the fresh tortillas
Toby I.P.O.L (international person of leisure), Pickles, Mike (Nike), M.J. (Nike)

This (embarrassingly) was the first big party we’ve hosted. We promise to up the frequency! We have no excuse because we have the space. Most newer apartment buildings, like the ones most of us expats live in, have large communal social spaces. It’s somewhat frowned upon to host parties in your apartment as it would disturb neighbors (it’s a very polite society). Our communal space is on the top 27th floor. There’s a KTV room (Karaoke TV) which is a basically a large living room with bar, sink, fridge, couches, large pull down screen and sound system. There’s a game room with a square table appropriate for mahjong playing and there’s an outdoor patio with a massive grill, sink, counter and seating for 20-25. We reserved all the rooms and invited our closest 25 expats buds over.

The potluck spread in the KTV room

Watermelon margaritas & carnitas galore!

Cinco across Asia

Team Korea phoned in during the celebration. Patty and Jenny were the previous Cinco de Mayo party hosts in Taiwan and they took the tradition to South Korea.

Errandcising

As Pickles did most of the cooking, Passionfruit did most of the prepping which presenting some interesting challenges:

Challenge #1:  Apparently clear plastic drinking cups rare here. If you want paper coffee cups or small dentist-like drinking cups, no problem.

I (PF) often feel like a full-time forager here… seeking out things that would normally take 5 minutes to find in the USA. I can spend obscene amounts of time searching for mundane things, like plastic cups. Shopping is a full time sport since most of it’s done by bike. I call it errandcising and it’s usually fun when it’s not 95+ degrees. It’s also how I learned the lay of the land.

We have about 8 stores that we rotate through on a regular basis because one week something you want is there and the next week it is not.

  1. Various day markets for veggies, nuts and some fruit
  2. Various fruit stands for fruit and only fruit
  3. Costco* for Tillamook cheese, Cornflakes (Pickles’ breakfast, not mine), California avocados (all mine and something I relish beyond words). Let’s be honest, the cheese triggered the membership which we never had until we moved here
  4. PX Mart (Taiwan’s supermarket chain) New Zealand milk for those cornflakes and misc sundries
  5. Captitans (a Japanese grocer)  milk from Hokkaido (if you’re a cow you really want to live here or in New Zealand), eggs, chicken (pre-cooked w/ head), fish, takeaway sushi, organic lettuces/carrots, soy sauces
  6. Carrefour (a French chain, one of the largest supermarkets in the world) local organic rice, butter, eggs, refried beans, pickles, coconut water, wine
  7. City Super (the fancy $$$$ store and always a last resort) for things like good peanut butter ($15 for 380 grams), almond butter (don’t ask), kale (a rarity)
  8. Junk stores for things like batteries, cleaning supplies, mahjong, and those damn plastic cups which you’d expect them to have

Plastic cups found at Costco. Because we all need 240 red cups.

Challenge #2:  Transporting 240 cups home by bike. I certainly caught some glances. I imagine the locals thinking “Oh, she must be an American who loves beer pong”. On the flip side, the 10 lbs of cold pork (soon to be carnitas) riding in my backpack provided a nice cooling effect in the afternoon heat.

Challenge #3:  Locating quesco fresco cheese. Ironically, a party guest found it, brought it and then we forgot to open it at the party. Fail.


105 K of Cycling

How to work off that carnitas! Mid May we got our butts invited on a group bike ride by some Swoosh enginerds. We hadn’t been on a large group ride since May 2016 so we jumped on the chance to be guided around new territory. The route was lovely with low traffic that took us east to the Geographic Center of Taiwan.

Two women on right drove the handy s.a.g. car.
Beer socks made their debut. Thanks, Kathy!

Pitstop in Puli, to make art. Paper making is popular here.

Made our own embossed paper then inked it up
Pretty pre-made block for guests to make a print from
Heated table to dry the inked artwork
Lots of people busy making paper

Second pitstop was for a traditional Taiwanese lunch… you know like pork belly and hot soup. Not what we typically eat mid-ride, but delicious nonetheless.

View from restaurant at Liyutan Lake (near the famous Sun Moon Lake)

The Geographic Center of Taiwan

After lunch we headed home and made a brief pitstop at the very center of Taiwan. We then climbed our way out, reaching a max elevation 947 m (2208 f).

The center!
The German “team” (Bianka is my bike buddy)
Portlanders
Until next time!
再见 – Zàijiàn – See you again!

pp

Pickles & Passionfruit


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One thought on “Cinco de Mayo & Cycling

  1. A bundle of cold pork in a backpack & 240 plastic red cups on a bike— you’re good to go!! Ready for anything!
    I feel sad for the cheese forgotten in the fridge😞😢. Guess you’ll have to have another party soon to use it up. Sounds like a great time was had by all! Yes, I loved those party rooms and patio areas in your building and the swimming pool with view is awesome. Beautiful location —did you Karaoke? Did anybody sing Wichita Lineman? I want to be an IPOL too. I also want to go to Puli. 😎❤️🌸 love KTG

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