2013年10月29日 星期二

Home safe home.

Recently I have been browsing CNN daily, both to practice my English and to get a hold on what's happening around the world, since the Taiwanese media is notorious for not covering international news that don't directly relate to Taiwan. 
I don't know if it's always been this way, but the globe is certainly not at peace now. There is spying and Obamacare issues within US,  and lots of turmoil in countries like Syria, Libya,Israel..... Just on Monday, another event happened very close to Taiwan- a jeep crashed into people at Tienanmen Square, the motive still not specified.
Domestically, Taiwan has its own sets of problems too. Nuclear power plants, free trade agreement between Taiwan and China, abuse of power by the military against soldiers, same-sex marriage Act, and so on. Some of these problems only affect a small group of people, some affect the whole nation, and some might affect other nations too. Even though those are serious  problems that affect each and one of us deeply, Sometimes making the future seem real bleak, I feel fortunate that we are not affected by even more devastating things like famine, war, mutany or a deadly virus, where there might not even be tomorrow.
It's not the best trait to take comfort in other people's disaster, but it's only human, and it's always nice to appreciate what we have in our life instead of complaining. I do hope the many problems in the world will be resolved soon without too much casualties, though there must be more problems to come, I can only hope that the big issues can be replaced with smaller, less violent ones, and everyone around the world can live the safe and comfortable life I am blessed to have now.
One can always hope, right ?

2013年10月23日 星期三

古早味挫冰 old school shaved ice

古早味gu-Tsao-wei (old school)
挫chua (shaved)
冰bing (ice)

It is now well into Autumn and the days are chilly,while it's not common for the health freak nation to have iced or cold food in such weather, there are always occasions when one feels rebellious. 
The chua-bing may not look like much in the photo, but let me tell you, it is just HEAVENLY GOODNESS. The shaved ice itself is produced by placing a block of ice over an ice-shaving machine, which uses razors and high speed spinning action to shave the ice into light feathery pieces. Then comes the topping. There is  a variety of choices, but I chose a simple combo- 粉圓fen-yuan ( same as the bubble in bubble tea ) and 煉乳lien-roo( condensed milk) . The brown gooey stuff all over is the shop's signature, a traditional kind of syrup made by brewing brown sugar and sticky rice. The syrup takes a lot of patience and effort to make, and it is healthier than refined sugar, with lots of dimension to the taste. I think that's why people are willing (at least I am!) to buy it, even if its price is equivalent to a cheap lunchbox. After all, one has to splurge occasionally, and why not splurge on something healthy?
If you ever come to Taiwan,be sure to scout these chua bing out!
This is Lenny, reporting from Taiwan.

What is your favorite Icy /cold snack?

2013年10月19日 星期六

Linsanity the movie, afterthoughts


I don't know basketball and I don't know religion, but I do know a good inspirational story when I see one!

  I am not a sports person, and the only time I watch sports is when the television is hogged by my dad or my brother. So naturally, I didn't really understand the hype around Jeremy Lin. I knew he's a good player, he's one of the few Asians playing in NBA, and his parents are from Taiwan, but besides from that, I'm not interested. I am of the rare species though, as everyone else in Taiwan seems to LOVE Jeremy Lin. 
  When <Linsanity> the documentary/movie came out, it made its way into all of the major theaters here in Taiwan, probably bringing in lots of revenue too. One of the people I know loved Lin so much, not only did she watch the movie, she also offered to give out two free tickets, just to promote the film. So, even though I wasn't as devoted a fan and rarely goes to movie theaters anyway, I ended up watching the movie.
  To my surprise, I quite like the movie. The editing and transition was fluent, together with the help of the music, even people who don't understand the sport can be fully immersed in the game, knowing when is a good shot, and when the player is off.
  Against the backdrop of basketball, there are two main themes: Faith, and racial discrimination- discrimination was one of the biggest obstacles he had to overcome, and he did so by having faith in God.
Jeremy is a American-grown Christian boy who has a strong passion for basketball and a NBA dream, I don't think you can be any more "American" than him. Yet because of his race and appearance, he had been turned down and humiliated multiple times in his basketball career, all the way from high school, university, to the professional leagues. It is rare to see a not-as-tall Asian in the NBA, but I thought his great skills and performance in the court would have been enough to compensate for that. Well, it certainly did not in the beginning, when he was struggling to get signed by teams, even though he played great in high school and university. Discrimination is everywhere, perhaps more so in sports, since there are a lot of traditions teams and fans honor, I remember seeing similar situations in the movie Money Ball. What really saddened me is when Lin received racist comments from the audience during his game at Harvard. I believe discrimination arises from ignorance, and I thought Ivy League students would be more informed than to be racist against Asian people, or at least be smart enough not to voice it loud. Clearly that is not the case, and it makes me think whoever said America is a great melting pot or a salad bowl probably didn't have Asians as one of the ingredients in mind.
  To deal with the discrimination, Lin turned to God for support. The discriminating comments were harsh, but one can still try to tune it out. But being turned down by teams after teams, that was something that would make one feel helpless, and he may not have been able to pull through if not for his strong unwavering belief in God and its plans. I am not Christian, but I do believe in the greater order, and it was touching to see how his faith got him through all the difficulties.
Linsanity the movie isn't one of those blockbusters, but it is a decent documentary that gives some in-depth descriptions about Jeremy Lin and his rise to fame. No matter where his career takes him in the future, his story will be one that is inspirational to all.

(photo courtesy of Linsanitythemovie.com)

2013年10月14日 星期一

青草茶 Ching-Tsao-cha ( Taiwanese herbal tea)

青Ching - green
草Tsao-  grass
茶cha-  tea 
Taiwan is an island with all four seasons: hot and humid summers, nice windy autumns, cold winters, and warm and flourishing springs. Having all four seasons is wonderful to girls like me, because it means we have occasions to bring out all kinds of clothing, from the teeny tiny bikini to the luxurious faux-fur coat. 
But as the transition between seasons is not clear cut, it can bring headaches, literally. For example, it's October now and should be fall, but we are having 25 degree Celsious chilly days and 30something degree hot days following. The sudden change in temperature can make one unwell and have heat strokes, with symptoms such as headache, lost of appetite, and sick stomach. 
To combat heat strokes, traditionally the Taiwanese drink 青草茶, which literally means green grass tea in Mandarin. usually 青草茶 refers to local "herbs" that may or may not be recognized as an Chinese medicine herb, but is believed to have healing qualities. 
Because this herbal tea has the "cold" quality in traditional medicine , it is believed that it can help chase out the "hot" quality in your body that causes heat strokes. Unlike most Chinese medicine that are bitter to the taste, this tea is brewed from mostly green plants, so it has a grassy flavour with some minty accents, making it a good summer drink even if you don't suffer from any illness. But don't drink too much, or you might accumulate too much "cold" and fall sick!
This is Lenny, reporting from Taiwan! 

What do you do when you have a heat stroke? Is there a family secret or a cultural tradition?