Giving thanks for tables with too much food

My feeble attempt at organizing a Thanksgiving in our apartment (a Facebook message sent to half a dozen friends the night before leaving the country for Malaysia) got a lukewarm response, at best (one negative RSVP in my Facebook inbox upon returning home). Colin and I had resigned ourselves to an exorbitantly priced dinner with turkey and most of the fixings at a Taipei restaurant, perhaps with another couple, only half of which is American. We were saved from this by an email from our new friend Carlos; he and his wife were hosting a potluck in their home, just on the other side of Yonghe.

I had a marathon session of curried squash soup on Wednesday: I needed soup for twelve on Thursday, and Colin had invited Anders and Melissa to dinner on Friday—they’d be getting soup as well. I’m kind of a one-trick pony, it seems.

Twenty minutes before we were to leave, Colin remembered we’d also signed up to bring cornbread. So we ran a bit late. Surprise.

We were well-received when we got there though, and there was barely enough surface space to set down the soup and piping-hot cornbread. Introductions were made, wine was poured, the people were ready to eat.

Besides the soup and cornbread, we had mashed potatoes, yams, corn on the cob, rolls, salad, rice stuffing, and of course, the turkey. Mr. Turkey had been purchased at a Taiwanese shop that also agreed to cook the bird for us, as no one in Taipei has an oven large enough to do so themselves. Unfortunately, and this probably has something to do with a lack of experience, the meat was a bit pink. And a bit mushy. Parts of it looked totally raw, actually. Strangely, no one was saying anything, and the parts that were cooked were more than enough to go around.

Only a fraction of the spread.

Our dinnermates were pleasant and extremely interesting. Again, Carlos’ wife, Elaine, is here on a Fulbright grant, and so knows many of the other Fulbright scholars in Taipei. More than half of the assembled were there studying ancient Chinese culture, current Chinese culture, the linguistic significance of Chinese religions, electrical engineering (the gal grows LEDs), and the like. I don’t often feel dumb (more so over here than in California, though), but I felt kinda dumb the whole night.

After dinner we moved straight to dessert, and Elaine had made two delicious apple tarts in her toaster oven. A scoop of Swiss ice cream was the finishing touch on my food coma.

Elaine is like a rockstar.

We ended the night learning majong from the one guy there younger than me, Andrew, who is here teaching English before going back to finish his undergrad. Majong is a game I can see myself getting into; I might challenge the grannies in the alleyway one day before we leave.

Andrew working the majong tiles.


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