Dear Liza, I appreciate that you shared a part of your childhood in your last column. With your positive thinking, I have a feeling that you could always produce positive fruit in your life. It is true that we don’t get to choose our family, but I also believe that all of us are trying our best to make it work.
Like you said, now that I look into those big windows, I wonder which episode of the family story I get to watch or if I happen to get the commercial time. A lot of times I saw tea cups and tea pots standing on the tables, and they were accompanied by a book, TV shows or a couple of friends.
There is always time for tea and room for cake. The tea-drinking culture can be so different from one country to another. The British enjoy their tea with a milk tint; the Japanese turn their tea cups clockwise three times before taking a sip.
What about the Dutchies?
Let me take a wild guess, they might probably say one "lekker" cookie beautifully completes the tea, especially when it is "gratis".
In spring time this year, a Dutch girl friend told me that she would be promoting and selling Taiwanese jasmine tea and oolong tea in a Sunday market in Zegge. She and her husband once lived in Taiwan for two years. During their stay, she became very fond of the local tea and brought this new habit back to Holland. She felt very proud to tell me that while other colleagues were drowning themselves in coffee, her husband had oolong tea to keep the energy levels high in the office.
The concept of those weekend markets greatly remind me of the busy and crowded night markets in Taiwan. The night market is a complete "feestje" for the five senses. Stinky tofu would be smelled from miles away. It’s something like blue cheese; you would only get used to it if you grow up with it. What’s more, the sound of the pinball machines and the taste of bubble milk tea and steamed buns. Everyone can find a fun corner there.
Just, due to exactly the same reason, I have to admit that a bittersweet feeling kicks my heart whenever I think of them. And that is precisely the worst nightmare to all parents. What happened to me as a little girl was I got lost literally every time.
After a terrifying, heart-stopping experience, my parents came to the conclusion that prevention was better than cure. From then on, our routine of going to a night market started with standing in front of some eye-catching landmark, and reciting my lines: "Excuse me, ma’am. I was here with my parents and I am lost now. Could you be so kind to take me to (the landmark)? They must be waiting for me there at any minute from now." Luckily, I found my family back with the help of strangers all the time.
To indulge myself with the fun atmosphere and the good old times, I offered to work as a Taiwanese oolong tea show girl if that would in one way or another boost the tea business. It was apparently not a difficult decision to make. My friend accepted my support happily and I dug out my traditional Chinese dress with excitement.
The Sunday finally arrived and it was a day of bright sunshine. The traditional Chinese dress didn’t disappoint me and easily attracted people’s attention. I got winks and big smiles from some husbands and some polite smiles from the wives.
However, it didn’t go too well afterwards as Dutch people seemed to be spoiled by their fragrant fruity tea; almost all of them gave me an "I-had-a-diarrhea" face after tasting.
Thankfully I did learn something from my one-month marketing course in London a few years ago. Very soon, I came back with an even bigger smile, "Please take a bite of the yummy Indonesian thousand-layer cake first, and now, sample some refreshing Taiwanese oolong tea. I’m sure you will find them a very good combination." This time, most people looked at me and said, "Mmm, indeed, you are right." Bingo! It was such a very enjoyable and entertaining Sunday to me.
I should make you some oolong tea next time you come over, Liza. We could sit by the windows and enjoy being observed.
Looking out of the big windows, the gorgeous views in autumn are non-stop feasts to my eyes. Years ago, I used to look at such a view in the movies and think, "Oh my, can it be any more romantic?" Now, while biking in this movie-like view every morning, I have nothing in mind but "Gees, will it be any colder?"
An old friend back in Taiwan told me, "It is all a matter of perspective." It is, isn’t it?
His words inspired me. I stared at all the beer bottles, Carlsberg, Jupiler, Bavaria, and Wieckse in the storage room, throwing myself the question, "Do you still insist on drinking cold beer on a freezing winter day?" A sharp chill immediately climbed up to my spine. I shook my head and closed the door right away.
That evening we had 100% homemade beer chicken soup for dinner. I first stir-fried a few slices of ginger with sesame oil. Next, put the drum sticks and mushrooms into the pan. With a little uncertainty, I poured one bottle of beer in, and added the second one with more confidence in another fifteen minutes. Believe it or not, it is just funny to feel a little bit tipsy from having too much soup.
My comment is, nutrition, quality sleep guaranteed and no hang-over promised.