Fact: Cinco de Mayo is the best foodie holiday to expats living in Asia. Simply put, good Mexican food does not exist here.
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.
Expat/expatriate: a person who lives outside their native country.
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.
Watermelon margaritas & carnitas galore!
Cinco across Asia
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.
- Various day markets for veggies, nuts and some fruit
- Various fruit stands for fruit and only fruit
- 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
- PX Mart (Taiwan’s supermarket chain) New Zealand milk for those cornflakes and misc sundries
- 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
- Carrefour (a French chain, one of the largest supermarkets in the world) local organic rice, butter, eggs, refried beans, pickles, coconut water, wine
- 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)
- 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.
Pitstop in Puli, to make art. Paper making is popular here.
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.
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).
再见 – Zàijiàn – See you again!
Pickles & Passionfruit
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