Our friends, Peter and Esther, had us over for a truly Taiwanese family dinner a couple of weeks ago. A feast of foods, mostly unfamiliar to us, was served. By the time I tried half of them, I was full. There was tofu served 3-4 different ways, shredded pork stew with a soy sauce flavored liquid, scrambled eggs with shrimp, a gelatinous rice-flour turnip cake (quite bland, anything could be chosen to put on top of it), fried fish and bell peppers, soups, steamed brown rice, jujubes (small green, apple like fruit), and grape tomatoes. I really can’t remember it all, but here are a few pictures:
(above, top to bottom: predominantly mushroom? soup, brown rice, eggs w/ shrimp, and turnip cake)
(In the white dish, fish with veggies. The metal dish just to the upper right had fried tofu, among a couple of other things. The pot just below it was filled with a tofu stew. I never got around to either of those things. I tried some of the pork “stew” in the pot at bottom right on my rice.)
(The ladies in this picture were also invited. The one on the left is the physical therapist for the handicapped daughter. The one in the center is actually from Long Beach, CA, but has lived in Taiwan for 14 years. She makes prostheses. She worked very hard at helping to translate all evening. One more lady, sitting directly opposite of them, is also involved in the oldest daughter’s care. This friend is of Taiwanese aboriginal descent and spoke English very well. Peter, cut in half on the right, also speaks fairly good English, but was very content to benefit from someone else’s translation this time.)
Esther, the mom, knowing our desire to learn Mandarin, labeled many pots with Chinese characters. She doesn’t seem to understand English, except for a few words. However, the English words I have heard her say have been pronounced flawlessly. During the meal, she humorously showed us the results of a failed attempt at the turnip cake. As for the meal as a whole, some things were tasty. Somethings were hard for my palate to appreciate. But just being invited into their home and getting to know them more was priceless.
The evening also included music. To begin things, Esther and their kids sang and danced a lovely Chinese Christian song of fellowship. We were shown the translation to follow along and it brought teats to my eyes. Then Jesse, Natalie, Carlie, and I sang a couple of our ‘Bible verse’ songs, which they followed along with in their Chinese Bible. They seemed delighted with the sharing.
After the food and some discussion of raising children, Esther brought out her guitar again. We were surprised to find the first song was “Country Roads, Take Me Home.” I don’t think most of them understood the lyrics much. They were having difficulty piecing the tune together, so Greg offered my services and the group energetically sang all 3 verses. We would have never expected to be singing a 30 year old John Denver song after dinner in Taiwan!’’
Peter and Esther came to say good-bye yesterday. We were able to pass on to them many food items and cleaning things that we can’t ship home. They gave us a nice family photo. The kids climbed all over Jesse. Their 6 year old girl cuddled some with Natalie and Carlie. I helped walk their oldest daughter some. Esther tried to ask me more things about training children, but we just didn’t have the common vocabulary. We settled on my writing to her and Peter translating. After hugs and waves, most of them disappeared down the elevator while 9 year old son raced down the stairs. I’m so glad they are believers. That way I know I will see them again, even if it isn’t in this life.