Woke up around 8:00 am feeling good. Jet lag don't phase me. Had a great night of sleep and ready to start my culinary adventure.
Breakfast (~8:00 AM) - Cantaloupe Pomelo Protein Shake
My parents are really into eating healthy and losing weight right now. They enrolled in a health club about a block away from their flat and go there every morning for about an hour to sit, chat, relax, and drink their daily breakfast shake. They are quite excited about the place and insisted that I come- I obliged them. I was craving more traditional Taiwanese breakfast foods but "losing" just one meal wouldn't be the worst thing. Plus, it's cute to see them so excited about something and comforting that they want to include me in it.
I have to say, the place was really nice and comfortable. I can see why my parents enjoy it so much. The owners are a young couple, the guy is 25- just a few years older than me and he owns and operates his own shop! Even better, they are Christian and play Hillsong concerts on their tv all morning.
The parents insisted I drink a shake so I ordered the Pomelo Cantaloupe flavor. Simple, clean, and healthy and tasted decent for a protein shake. They also have a really fancy scale in their shop that measures body fat % (10.3% - I've always been curious) and a padded corner dedicated for stretching.
Also, a lady came in to bake her cookies. The owners were letting her use their oven since hers was broken. A tiny, little act of kindness that warmed my heart. The cookie lady insisted that I take a few for free (they were green tea cookies with nuts). Such friendliness :)
Lunch (1:00 PM) - Grandma's home cooking
For lunch, we headed over from my parents' place in Taoyuan to my grandparents' home in Neili. Grandma was cooking us up a feast.
Unfortunately, my less-than-amateurish photos don't do the food justice.
- Pork belly w/ basil and bamboo
- Shrimp w/ broccoli
- Squid w/ a celery-like vegetable
- Sliced pork w/ a vegetable
- Another vegetable dish cooked with garlic
- A delicious bean curd dish
As you can tell, I'm bad at identifying Asian vegetables. The bean curd dish was especially good and Pat (who doesn't typically eat bean curd) felt bad for eating most of it. The meal was excellent. I was really happy to have the opportunity to eat grandma's cooking again because when I was younger I really didn't appreciate her food. When she visited the U.S. around the time that I was in middle school/high school I was so concerned with the things that I wanted to eat and failed to recognize her effort or her expertise. Part of the reason I can appreciate it more now is that I just grew up, and I think another part is that cooking for myself at home almost every day has made me appreciate food more in general.
For dessert we were treated to fresh cut Papaya (probably the sweetest that I've ever had) and cool, crisp Asian pear.
Washed it down with a delightful cup of Oolong tea. Grandma broke out the "good stuff" for us. Mentioning that she doesn't let anyone else have it but her grandsons were worthy.
We wrapped up lunch by watching the second half of Rockets/Clippers Game 6 (what an incredible choke), some small talk with the grandparents (small in both subject and in vocabulary), and I played Mah Jong for the first time.
Snack (4:30 PM) - Candy, bread samples, and Choco-bean manto
We went to Carrefour (a Taiwanese department store/grocery market) where we browsed some clothing shops and did some grocery shopping. I was a bit overwhelmed by the selection. I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. As a result, I was indecisive and hesitant to get anything. I ended up wandering back and forth from one store corner to the other. I couldn't decide. Everything looked SO good.
Eventually, I settled on a bag full of assorted candy and some Choco-bean mantos (soft and gooey- 3 for $1 USD). I must have eaten a dozen bread samples. I will be back.
Dinner (8:00 PM) - Mom's cooking & Dragon Fruit
Felt a bit beat from the day's activities so I went hope a took a nap for a couple hours. When I woke, the rest of the family had already eaten so I heated up some leftovers. Turkey wing, salmon, bbq pork, purple rice w/ black beans, seasoned edamame. For dessert, dragon fruit- my favorite and one of the things I was most looking forward to. I'll eat one everyday if I can. Satisfied.
We ended the day lounging on the couch and watching the 2nd half of a movie called Desperado starring Antonio Banderas. I enjoyed the family time and the movie was unintentionally hilarious.
Midnight Snack (12:00 PM) - (onigiri, Taiwanese sandwich, and apple milk)
I LOVE Taiwanese convenience stores. I could probably eat for a week at a 7-11. Snuck out and got myself some onigiri, a sandwich, and apple milk- all for just under $2 USD. I'm including the price in there because I love good value. It's like a seasoning that makes the food taste even better. I don't mind paying for quality food, but cheap is a cherry on top. Just another reason why I love Taiwan.
All in all, a delightful first day with great food and quality family time.