Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Black Sesame Seeds & Food Discovery

Taiwan has some interesting foods, some of which I like and don't like. I do love the variety of beverages that Taiwan has to offer. AppleSidra is my favorite so far--it is made right here in Taiwan-- followed close by Bing-Shas that they sell a few streets away. I love going to that Bing-Sha place; it is run by Shen -Na and her husband. They are very cordial people; I like them a great deal! Their son's name is trouble, which I just found out yesterday.

Here in Taiwan there "sweet" things are not as sweet, which is a good thing. Even their ice cream isn't too sweet. I have only bought one kind here. It is a Taiwanese red bean ice cream. Surprisingly, the bean is not covered with something caramelized something, but plain, which I like.

Also, anything "cheesy" tastes sweet. It seems that here salt is not used as much as in America and Canada (the only two country besides this one I have been). I am used to cheesy cheesiness! I bought some cheese crackers with fake processed cheese in the middle, and they cracker itself was sweet and tasted more like peanut butter than cheese. At Asia Go, the equivalent of Wal-Mart, I bought what I thought was garlic bread and the glaze on it was sweet too, but not too sweet. I am definitely a salt-girl myself. Even the margarine tastes sweet. It is odd.

I am glad that at the 24-hour store I found real fake processed cheese and it is NOT sweet. Yay! I made grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum! It tastes really American. At the Costco in Taipei, you can buy real real cheddar cheese. Next time I have money and if I go, I want to buy some. I long to have just plain cheese melted in the microwave! It is so good to eat. It wastes, I mean uses, a lot of cheese quickly, but there is nothing better than crunchy, melty, greasy cheese.

Also at the 24-hour store, I found black sesame seeds. I wanted to try them out it see what the difference was between them and white/ivory-colored ones. I ate some when I got home and there didn’t seem to be much of a difference, so I went to the Internet. Wikipedia told me a little more about them, but it didn’t seem to say much other than, “In general, the paler varieties of sesame seem to be more valued in the West and Middle East, while the black varieties are prized in the Far East.” So there you have it, it would seem the only difference is color preference. To me, it seems, that the black sesame seeds has more of a nutty flavor. *shrug

Now moving onto candy! I do like their candy. They have this really good candy called Hi Chews. They are fruity candy, which are soft and easily chewed. Compared to Starburst, these make your mouth shout for joy and your tongue back-flips. I just love them A LOT. For a few weeks I was addicted to them. I love the green apple flavor the best followed closely by the lycee flavor. Lycee is an interesting fruit, which I also like. I do prefer the candy variation better though. Another candy, chocolate in persuasion, which I love, is called Bufio. It is nougat candy that is just yummy. Other chocolate candies here: Picnic, Always, Guts, etc…

Eating out! Dang, I almost forgot. There are night markets here in Taiwan. One night I tried squid. It was so gross looking, but with the hot marinate they put over it, it was amazing. Even eating the “tentacles” wasn’t so bad. It was yummy! I would have never thought I would be okay with it. I ate it up pretty quickly.

Eating out has been a pretty good experience. We have found this really nice restaurant called Style. It has some “American” foods. When I went the first time, I had this wonderful herbal tea: Chrysanthemum and wolfberry berry (I could never remember the last part…Shannon can remember, but I cannot.

In Taichung, we went to the mall. Just outside of the mall was a TGI Friday’s! It was wonderfully amazing! I had a big fat cheeseburger. I WILL go there again, I promise. Yum! Coincidentally, it was the first TGI Friday’s I had ever been.

Well enough of food. There is much more I would talk about, but I think I will stop for now.

Here are some other “cool” facts about sesame seeds from Wikipedia:

According to Assyrian legend, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds. In early Hindu legends, tales are told in which sesame seeds represent a symbol of immortality. "Open sesame," the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights, reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity.[3].

It is also used in Urdu literature as proverbs "til dharnay ki jagah na hona"; meaning by, a place so crowded that there is no room for a single seed of sesame and "in tilon mein teil nahee" (ان تلوں میں تیل نہیں); referred for a person who is very mean, meaning by there is no oil left in this sesame.

In recent times the seeds have become an ingredient in wiccan practices. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen suggests their use to aid conception, to draw money, or for protection.

Friday, July 25, 2008

No, that is not a baby!

I teach a kindergarten class Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There is a little girl Zoey who like the pat my stomach and always asks if it is a baby. Sometimes I tell her yes and sometimes I tell her no...mostly NO! For crying out loud, I am not pregnant and have never been with anyone. But bless her heart, she thinks there is a baby in there and maybe to her if she touches it, the baby might kick. It is really quite cute. If you think about it, she probably has had a little brother or sister on their way in her family. I cannot really get mad at her. How, when everyone here is pretty skinny, can she know the difference between just being fat and being pregnant.

I just don't want kids touching my stomach because it serves as a reminded that I am getting pretty fat. Oh! believe me I know...I checked the scale just yesterday!

Maybe I have a "sympathy" stomach per se; maybe I wish I had a husband and a baby on the way. But then again I would have had to had the wish for a while because one summer ago I worked for a couple of days at my old work before I went on my internship and a co-worker there came up to me. He asked, "When are you due?" ACK!!

"NO, I am just fat." I replied with a quick quip remark. You could just see his face drop and any words forthcoming were silenced in horror. Neither did I have for a few seconds. He muttered, "I thought that because of the kind of shirt you were wearing..." Geez...poor guy. Probably scarred him for the rest of the day.

But what a social faux pa, but oh well. I don't blame the kids here.

Also this week I subbed for the morning kindergarten class and even more kids said, "baby?" as they patted my stomach. "NO, that is not a baby!" How embarrassing, but what I can expect when I am fat. *oh yes, I have seen pictures.*

I just need to do something about it. I will start by eating less and then slowly adding exercise.

Also I think it might be due to something I started doing last October after my then boyfriend broke up with me. I had a mind set of, "well, if he doesn't like me for who I am, then why not be ugly and when someone does finally like me I will know it was for me and not my body or pure physical-ness." To tell the truth, that is the same reason I cut my hair. If I looked like a boy, no one would even look at me as "potential".

But I need to get in shape for myself and my health. I am not careful, I could slip into diabetes, which runs in my family. I kinda want to stick around for a while. ;)

So, I best go to work and make a positive change!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Year of the Rat

My Chinese Zodiac is the Rat. I was born between Feb. 2, 1984 and Feb. 3, 1985. Apparently I am a wood rat. I find it all interesting and fascinating. I looked it up at, which isn't exactly the end all, beat all source on the Chinese Zodiac but it is always a good starting point. Under professions Psychology is included, which is my undergrad. ^_^ I guess I am on the right track.

It also says I should avoid Horses, but that Monkeys, Dragons, and Oxen is where I find love interests and friends...makes me wonder what my past boyfriends have been. I might just have to look at that retroactively.

The following exurbs are from

The Rat () was welcomed in ancient times as a protector and bringer of material prosperity. It is an animal associated with aggression, wealth, charm, and order, yet also associated with death, war, the occult, pestilence, and atrocities. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of the Rat is associated with the earthly branch symbol . In some parts of the world, a year associated with this animal is referred to as Year of the Mouse because the word may be translated to "rat", "mouse", or more broadly, "rodent".


Being the first sign of the Chinese zodiac, rats are leaders, pioneers and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. Rat people are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rats are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power. They are energetic and versatile and can usually find their way around obstacles, and adapt to various environments easily. A rat's natural charm and sharp demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone, but rats are usually highly exclusive and selective when choosing friends and so often have only a few very close friends whom they trust.

Behind the smiles and charm, rats can be terribly obstinate and controlling, insisting on having things their way no matter what the cost. These people tend to have immense control of their emotions, which they may use as a tool to manipulate and exploit others, both emotionally and mentally. Rats are masters of mind games and can be very dangerous, calculative and downright cruel if the need arises. Quick-tempered and aggressive, they will not think twice about exacting revenge on those that hurt them in any way. Rats need to learn to relax sometimes, as they can be quite obsessed with detail, intolerant and strict, demanding order, obedience, and perfection.

A valuable lesson for Rats is to learn to consider others before themselves, at least sometimes, and to avoid forcing their ideas onto others. Rats are fair in their dealings and expect the same from others in return, and can be deeply affronted if they feel they have been deceived or that their trust has been abused. Sometimes they set their targets too high, whether in relation to their friends or in their career. But as the years pass, they will become more idealistic and tolerant. If they can develop their sense of self and realize it leaves room for others in their life as well, Rats can find true happiness.

According to tradition, Rats often carry heavy karma and at some point in life may face an identity crisis or some kind of feeling of guilt. Rats are said to often have to work very long and hard for everything they may earn or have in life. However, a Rat born during the day is said to have things a bit easier than those who are born at night. Traditionally, Rats born during the night may face extreme hardships and suffering throughout life. Rats in general should guard themselves against hedonism and nostalgia, as it may lead to self-destruction. Gambling, alcohol and drugs tend to be great temptations to Rat natives.

Traditionally, Rats should avoid Horses, but they can usually find their best friends and love interests in Monkeys, Dragons, and Oxen.

Professions include espionage, psychiatry, psychology, writing, politics, law, engineering, accounting, detective work, and pathology.

Learning Chinese

I have picked up a few words and phrases in Chinese. It will take me forever to get the tones down that is for sure. I have learned how to say: hello, how are you, good-bye, good night, no, no I don't need that (ironically only two characters)...AND that is about it. I want to learn more. Maybe when I get comfortable with teaching I can spend more time working on the language. I have a good 6 months left. ^_^

I am also interested in learning some common characters. I realized that some of them are very beautiful and elegant. Well, language learning is an evolution and I am just setting out. I am excited!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Scooter Yay!

Today, I had my first scooter ride! It was absolutely wonderful. Another teacher Lindsey just bought hers and she took me for a ride around the town. We went up hills and stopping was strange because of the balance issue, which Lindsey was great at. At first it was really scary but by the end I wanted one. I would love to drive one and not just be a passenger. I TOTALLY WANT ONE! I used to have a very staunch view on motorcycles, scooters and the like, but now I think my tune has changed. ^_^

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Typhoon Baby!!

For the past two days there has been a typhoon warning. The typhoon started last night. All the new teachers and I went to the 11:20pm showing of Batman: the Dark Knight! When I rode the movie theatre it started raining. A typhoon was basically a lot of rain. Batman was a good movie. When we got out the theatre at 2:00am, it was pouring really hard. It was fun riding home on my bike in it. Most of us brought plastic ponchos. I folded up my shorts but they still got wet. It wasn't bad at all. This morning I was awakened to the sound of someone saying that school was canceled. I was so happy ^_^. So, we got to go back to bed. Yay! So today, none of us have classes and don't have to teach. And I am going to dye my hair dark.

P.S. The typhoon isn't too bad and I am safe inside my school.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So Here I Am!

I have been in Taiwan since about 2 weeks ago. I haven't written any blogs. For some reason I haven't felt to do it even though I NEED to! I want to preserve my memories. Taiwan is amazing, I have to say! I love riding my bike around to see the city. It is strange to wander around in a strange town, in a strange country where I don't speak the language. I often wonder how strange I must look to them. A big, fat American with blonde hair. I am out of place. Yesterday, we went to McDonald's, I ordered this humongous double BIG MAC. Every time I order at McDonald's I think to myself what I must look like: a fat American ordering a cheeseburger...oh well.. but yesterday I dyed my hair a dark mahogany brown. I fit in a little more, but my blue eyes don't...haha...

Just outside the McDonald's by SO-GO

McDonald's...Open 24 Hours

We all went out to eat to McDonald's one of the first week we were here.

I love this one...It is a HOT DOG! Heheheh...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Current Taiwan News!

Hey, I just added a box on the right-side of my blog with current events from Taiwan. You can check for what is going on here!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Address in Taiwan!!

Here is my address in Taiwan. Feel free to write and if you write I will send you back a postcard! Just think you will be able to have a piece of history with a stamp from Taiwan and everything!!

Erin Shaw
c/o Berhan Language Institute
336 Ay Gwo St.
Feng Yuan, Taichung
Taiwan ROC 42045