What the locals really think of us, our culture etc in their literature? I really like to know

There was a story told by a famous story teller and writer of the movie A Christmas Story who told a story of his life in Hammond Indiana. Everyone there ate red cabbage and meatloaf. It was their staple. The thought of eating escargot or any unusual foods would make a person upchuck. It took a rare person to get out of the local food trap.

Here in Taiwan, I feel I’m in the same environment. It is more so for me because I live in the country but I am not so sure.
I see these girls on the Taiwanese Travel Channels touring the world, trying different foods and sampling different cultures and they are having a good time. Here at home, I show people things I get a “Yuck”, “a very strange”, “Chinese/Taiwanese People Don’t do that”… etc.

I’m kind of a fixture here, so I’m not quite local but not quite foreigner. nor do they have to show me a fake face. Joe foreigner teacher comes by and he gets all smiles… I get some interesting stories that are confided to me or overheard by me, but I can’t find any forums, articles or whatnot in their own language…

Look how newcomers bash the noise, the temples, the traffic the driving etc. and show no respect for the feelings of the locals who may like it that way. It is our right and we feel that way. I’m sure the Chinese write the sames thing about us. I want that stuff. I’ve tried for years here to get some sources, but so far no luck.
Topics: Food 1. Quote after a home cooked meal of Chicken, stuffing, taters… steamed veggies gravy… “I can’t believe the Americans cook such a chicken and other food with out any taste in it.” Counter Argument… Taste, it tasted good. simple but good. Reply: But it had a chicken taste to it. Further reply: But it’s Chicken. People like the chicken taste.
Return: Please… no one likes the chicken taste, that’s why we marinade the chicken in rice wine for a while to kill that taste then we add flavor… Then an unfair return… Like the way you get steak in a Taiwanese restaurant… All sauce. Can’t even find the steak in there… (I’ve read from a source (Michael Savage) some writers say American’s taste in food is a bit primitive when it comes to meat but still… )

Other situation… over heard … student talking about food in the states… Mayonnaise is on everything. Too much mayonnaise.
There was a story told to me about how a student and her friends in graduate school in Taiwan would be invited to their professor’s home to make toll house cookies, which as you know is a great American tradition in many homes in our country.
The students made the cookies, had a bite politely took some home but did not eat them. They thought it was too sweet but the teacher was happy.

Other interesting situation has to do with an Australian Home Stay. My friend’s host parent so excited to have a Taiwanese student that she wanted to make him feel at home. She made Asian Spiced style cookies. But the combination of spices and sweet would not occur in Taiwan so he felt strange. Fortunately, she did not offer to make anymore.

Edit: Here’s one that was told to me years ago by an Adult Student. It had to be made up, but I don’t think my student was that creative… She said she was abused by her home stay parent. The family would have all kinds of food but she was only given rice… And no I did not make this up either. I’m as gullible as one can be. I could not even come up with this plot line.

There is also a small current of resentment of the foreigner trying to improve things or make changes in the culture. Stories told to me of how the kids would go to church not for the religious content but just for the candies and the food at one time.

I’m looking for honest cultural criticisms in writing or on forums in the own words. I want stories of foreigners here and I want stories of Taiwanese in the west, articles from travel guides or anything else. If you can translate it, great! If not, please post a summary and a link. For all of us. We may think are way is better but the only way to change it is to slowly do it from the inside.

Well, that is normal. Though during my first 2 years here I loved most of the food and would not complain. I thought all the white people here are crazy to go to McDonald’s while there so many good Asian food around. Then… the local food got normal… and I am craving Mac myself like crazy.

However, when it comes to complaining I try not to complain loud when Taiwanese are around, even if they say something first. Because it’s always fine to complain about your own country, but when outsiders do the same thing it is offending. But once it’s all foreigners only, then we complain loads… not because we truly hate Taiwan, but because we miss home and we let the frustration out.

As for chicken… I loved chicken in Europe, I hate it here… the ginger/chinese medicine herbs they use… the smell just makes me quite nauseous. If I really can’t take sth as a quest of Taiwanese ppl, I will politely say no, as many times as it takes. Usually they will stop insisting and not put it on my plate.

Yes, we all crave our native foods. Even the best most elegant food critic had to come from somewhere. He may crave sloppy Joe for all we know

[quote=“mukashi”]
However, when it comes to complaining I try not to complain loud when Taiwanese are around, even if they say something first. Because it’s always fine to complain about your own country, but when outsiders do the same thing it is offending. But once it’s all foreigners only, then we complain loads… not because we truly hate Taiwan, but because we miss home and we let the frustration out. [/quote]

But we are human. The Taiwanese is human and you’re human. Don’t you really want to know what the other guy thinks about your food. Or even his frustrations about living abroad too.

[quote=“mukashi”]
As for chicken… I loved chicken in Europe, I hate it here… the ginger/chinese medicine herbs they use… the smell just makes me quite nauseous. If I really can’t take sth as a quest of Taiwanese people, I will politely say no, as many times as it takes. Usually they will stop insisting and not put it on my plate.[/quote]

It’s an acquired tasted. If you work though the nauseousness you’ll get there. I absolutely love the stinky tofu, don’t get me started on chicken feet. Strangely after being away from my home country for more than 7 years, I had a (food) bucket list to try my old favorites on my last visit. Most I still loved, some I actually disliked.

And my opinion has been drifting towards a Taiwanese perspective too… My family ate too much meat. Everyone was so fat there. They must have tripled in size. I think my Taiwanese diet style saved my life.
Any Taiwanese articles or forums of their opinion of American/European life… I’m anxious to know. I really want to know.

I was invited months ago to a party and my Chinese classmates took the trouble to prepare a “Western” food, spaghetti with lots of tomato sauce. I prepared a potato casserole and they were surprised by the taste, they liked the dish. My classmates think that Western Food needs to have some tomato or tomate sauce. We usually associate Chinese food with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.

[quote=“Taiwan_Student”]

Look how newcomers bash the noise, …[/quote]
Damned newbies. I wish they stopped doing that. Bashing things only makes more noise. And stop hitting the keyboard so hard while you type!

I only blame temples who make sudden left turns without indicating it first!
Na… seriously. Who blames temples? I mean, as long as they stop making that damned BING BING noise at funerals. And no shouting-singing about where “Baba” left the bank book. Jeeez.

Yeah, I can feel the pressure a bunch of expats put on the 23 Million islanders to change their ways because of it… :sunglasses:

Who cares. That relates to the second sentence. Because I respect your feelings and culture. Honestly. No really. Come on. Why wouldn’t I? And remember not to hit the keyboard so hard.
Ups…

I think those criticisms of American food come not just from Taiwanese. Years ago when I travelled a few times in the U.S. I did find that the food was actually quite bland once you got off the coasts. The midwest is pretty much a barren wasteland in culinary terms. There is an excessive use of mayonnaise, melted cheese and ketchup. Salt too.

I’ve cooked all sorts of dishes, not just Western dishes, and most people here simply haven’t liked them. Curries, pastas, soups. You name it. I find a lot of the breads, cakes and biscuits (cookies) here to be really strange, especially when they’re explicitly marketed as being something Western. Yet the kinds of breads, cakes and biscuits that Westerners like simply aren’t liked by Taiwanese. My wife likes much of this stuff, but last summer, her friend also went to Australia with us and there was all sorts of stuff she didn’t like at all in this regard.

One of my colleagues went to Germany for his honeymoon. He has stated to me that he doesn’t like Western food (not just German food) at all really. Pretty much none of it. Actually, from what I can gather, aside from Japanese food, he doesn’t like non-Taiwanese food generally. My father in law is pretty much exactly the same: Taiwanese/Chinese and Japanese, maybe Korean. That’s it.

It seems odd to me. Of course there have been plenty of dishes I haven’t liked from any nation, but the only cuisine I could say I completely disliked was Burmese.

[quote=“GuyInTaiwan”]
It seems odd to me. Of course there have been plenty of dishes I haven’t liked from any nation, but the only cuisine I could say I completely disliked was Burmese.[/quote]

Really? Why was that?

BigJohn: I had some excellent food in Myanmar, but it was Indian. The actual Burmese food is awful basically because it’s all designed specifically to combat the lack of hygeine there and the tropical climate. How they get around such issues are that they use truly staggering amounts of salt, oil (as in a dish comes in a bowl with a layer of several centimetres of oil) or chilis, and they are pretty big on some sort of fishy smelling sauce too. Virtually any and every dish has some combination of salt, oil or chilis, and maybe fish sauce, and quite probably all four. Even my wife, who will pretty much eat anything, said she just couldn’t handle the food and that she found no redeeming qualities about the cuisine. Yes, it actually is that bad. In Yangon and other large settlements, you could usually get Indian food (thali – kind of an all you can eat affair where they keep coming around and topping up your rice, several curries and a variety of pickles), but out in the sticks, it’s not so common, so you’re stuck with the other food. I was sick as a dog before we got to Myanmar and between the weather (it was June/July), doing hiking, and just not being able to eat very much, I got even more run down. I was literally drinking 4+ litres per day and was still extremely dehydrated and I’m sure I was eating well below 2,000 calories per day. I actually liked Myanmar a lot. It’s a spectacular country and there were far fewer touts and general fuckwits there (local or foreign), but Christ it was a brutal month. It all culminated with me pissing blood, discussing doctors with a woman at the British embassy, ditching a large part of our itinerary so I could chill in Yangon for an extra week and a beach on the west coast, and severely curtailing my activities, and then getting on anti-biotics when we returned to Bangkok.

Well, I do complain to some point, but only with good Taiwanese friends, and even then I know I should not go totally ballistic on the local flavors. I can hear when I’m crossing the line, as they will start to defend their food or/and attack western flavors :smiley:

Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE stinky tofu and some other local food (like 皮蛋), but chicken is too much~ The Taiwanese is either better or worse. It’s not more healthy or not. It all depends on how one is preparing and choosing their food, in either country.

I might be the opposite of most of you guys. I get the experience that a lot of Taiwanese want to go eat Western food when they are with me, despite my protests that I’d much rather prefer Taiwanese food.

For me, unless it’s another Asian cuisine like Korean or Thai (which I personally don’t enjoy as much but still think they are acceptable), in general I really dislike eating Western style food in Taiwan. I just think the local food tastes a lot better than any attempt of making foreign food in Taiwan.

Is there someone who agrees with me? Or do I stand alone…

[quote=“Rabidpie”]I might be the opposite of most of you guys. I get the experience that a lot of Taiwanese want to go eat Western food when they are with me, despite my protests that I’d much rather prefer Taiwanese food.
[…]
Is there someone who agrees with me? Or do I stand alone…[/quote]

No, you don’t. My Taiwanese friends also sometimes like to eat “Western”, and like you I’m usually not very excited about it. It’s not all the time but sometimes, so I don’t really argue and just follow them.

None of my Taiwanese friends generally dislike Western food, though. But they are mostly students and thus younger generation. The “older” Taiwanese are probably different - even though the ones I know have no problem with Western food either, on the contrary, but they all have or had some (professional) connection to Europe, so maybe that’s the reason.

[quote=“Rabidpie”]I might be the opposite of most of you guys. I get the experience that a lot of Taiwanese want to go eat Western food when they are with me, despite my protests that I’d much rather prefer Taiwanese food.

For me, unless it’s another Asian cuisine like Korean or Thai (which I personally don’t enjoy as much but still think they are acceptable), in general I really dislike eating Western style food in Taiwan. I just think the local food tastes a lot better than any attempt of making foreign food in Taiwan.

Is there someone who agrees with me? Or do I stand alone…[/quote]

I agree with you. Taiwanese cooks do produce East Asian food at a higher standard than western food.

My old boss couldn’t stand western food even though his parents had among the first coffeeshop chains in Taiwan and then emigrated to Canada. He had even lived in Canada himself but wasn’t interested to stay there although his English and understanding of western culture was pretty good. He thought that sandwiches were dry horrible affairs and his favourite food was all the traditional favorites like mian xian. The dirtier the restaurant the better the flavor he would say only half jokingly.

[quote=“Rabidpie”]I might be the opposite of most of you guys. I get the experience that a lot of Taiwanese want to go eat Western food when they are with me, despite my protests that I’d much rather prefer Taiwanese food.

For me, unless it’s another Asian cuisine like Korean or Thai (which I personally don’t enjoy as much but still think they are acceptable), in general I really dislike eating Western style food in Taiwan. I just think the local food tastes a lot better than any attempt of making foreign food in Taiwan.

Is there someone who agrees with me? Or do I stand alone…[/quote]

I don’t like most Western food here at all. It’s probably like the equivalent of suburban restaurant Chinese food in the West for a Taiwanese person abroad. Much of the food here I would say I like, but not all. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say I’m simply indifferent to it. I could take or leave hotpot, for instance.

Which western fuckwit would open a ‘Chinese’ restaurant in his home country? Did I make a point here?: D

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD

[quote=“Belgian Pie”]Which western fuckwit would open a ‘Chinese’ restaurant in his home country? Did I make a point here?: D
[/quote]

No you didn’t! I think Guy meant that the Western food here is analogous to the old style Chinese restaurants in the West: the all you can eat buffet at the Lucky Dragon, or the egg rolls, sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken and fried rice lunch special. That is, it is adapted (distorted) for the local market.

But that is far from true, in Taipei. There is a lot of really decent Western food here, although it’s a bit pricey.

[quote=“BigJohn”][quote=“Belgian Pie”]Which western fuckwit would open a ‘Chinese’ restaurant in his home country? Did I make a point here?: D
[/quote]

No you didn’t! I think Guy meant that the Western food here is analogous to the old style Chinese restaurants in the West: the all you can eat buffet at the Lucky Dragon, or the egg rolls, sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken and fried rice lunch special. That is, it is adapted (distorted) for the local market.

But that is far from true, in Taipei. There is a lot of really decent Western food here, although it’s a bit pricey.[/quote]

I just need my Rubios, Wahoos and Salsa Bar, maybe Baja Fresh, then i’m good.