Thursday, March 28, 2013

Waiting for Mick Jagger to Call

A few months ago, I received an email. It went like this:

Dear Chris,

I hope this message finds you well!

I am writing you following a visit on your blog, which I find interesting and appropriate for publication in book format!

I am an employee of Bloggingbooks, which is the new publishing brand of the well-established scientific publishing house, known as SVH Verlag.  We are currently actively looking for new authors.

Bloggingbooks would like to broaden its publication's portfolio and in this respect, comes my question:  would you have any interest in publishing your blog posts into book format?

Our website: htpp://

The best way to get in touch with me will be per e-mail.

Please let me know you thoughts!


Kind regards

I was somewhat taken aback.  At first I thought it was one of those vanity publishing deals, “For only $500 you can see your name in print.  Buy as many copies as you want $100 each.”  Then they told me it was actually going to be for sale all over the world, and I would receive actual royalties.  

It has always been a dream of mine to publish a book, but come on…I also want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star even though the only music I play these days is on the radio.  I’m only sort of expecting an email from Mick Jagger asking me to join his band.  

After some deliberation and a few questions to the editor who wrote me I decided to go ahead with the idea.  So now the Taiwan Adventure is in book form and available at and soon at some other bookstores around the world like Barnes and Noble. 

The title?  The Taiwan Adventure: An Expat’s Observations of Life in Taiwan

The interesting thing is that the publishing company uses a green method of publishing.  Books are published on paper as they’re ordered.  This way they're not printing lots of books and then having them sit around gathering dust and wasting trees.  

The book is made up of what, I think, are the best of the Taiwan Adventure Blog. It is a representative slice of each category:

Taiwanese History:
A look at the early moments of the Republic of China and some of the key people in its history.

Taiwanese Traditions:
The culture and religion of Taiwan and how it affects day-to-day life.

Cultural Unawareness:
The mistakes I made, and the surprises I experienced through the customs of  Taiwan.

Disability in Taiwan:
A look at the difficulties of living with disabilities in Taiwan from a disabled man’s perspective.

Eating My Way Through Taiwan:
The food and the adventure of eating in Taiwan.

Random Asianess:
The differences between East and West

Taiwan Travelogue:
A Look at a few of my favorite places in Taiwan.

Take a look for the book and if you like, please buy it.  Now that that’s done I’ll have to look at the old “Bucket List” and see what’s left to do…and sit by the phone waiting for Mick to call.  Keith Richards is looking a bit rough these days, so you never know.

I look sort of professorial in this photo.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Taiwan Blog Review: Taiwan Duck

I’ve completely given myself to Taiwanese food and snacks.  I can’t help it.  There’s something about Taiwanese food that just grabs me.  So, even though I’m not much of a cook, I still like to look at Taiwan Duck.

I guess I’m into food.  Well, actually, I’m definitely into food.  I like to read about it. I like to talk about it.  I like to hear about it.  I like to look at it as I go by.  I like to smell it, (even Stinky Tofu). I mostly like to eat it.  One of the categories I have for Zite Magazine on my iPad is food and cooking.  So, this type of website is attractive to me.

Taiwan Duck is a website that shows you how to prepare many favorite Taiwanese foods.  They give you a recipe, and the steps to make it, then as an added bonus, they do a video where Joanne shows you how she prepares it.

Joanne is cool; she’s a Taiwanese woman who has been transplanted into the UK, by marriage.  She’s obviously a very good cook, and has quite a charming personality.  I don’t even cook, but my wife and I enjoy watching her videos and listening to her explanations of how to do it.  Sometimes as I watch the video, I can just imagine the delicious smells in that kitchen.

She will also tell you where you can find ingredients, usually found only in Taiwan, in the area where they live.  She tells you her secrets for preparing the food and shows you how it’s done.  At the end of the video she shows you the prepared food and those are the only times I wish that I lived in the UK, so she and her videographer husband, could invite me over to help them eat it. 

Her husband stays mostly in the background.  I can’t remember ever seeing him in any of the videos I’ve watched.  Occasionally, he’ll prompt with an English word or two, but mostly he just hides behind the camera.  I suspect, all though I don’t know for sure, that he writes all of the recipe descriptions and is the tech guy for the website. 

The recipes are varied from Taiwanese snack foods: Oyster Omelets, Salty Chicken (Yen Si Ji), Taiwanese Beef Noodles (Niu Rou Mian) to Beef and Spinach Lasagna.  Lasagna?  Well, apparently not all of the recipes are Taiwanese, but with a name like Banducci, I can eat some Lasagna, too. 

The website is easy to use, and really an enjoyable experience.  You can even slip over to the store and buy some nice Taiwan Duck apparel, so you'll look good in the kitchen.

So, if you have some time and want to  learn how to cook some of Taiwan’s favorites, then take a few moments, grabs some nice Taiwanese Oolong Tea and a notebook and learn how to cook Taiwan Duck Style…then call me up and invite me over to help you try out the meal you made.  I can tell you right now, without equivocating I’m going to like it.

Visit Taiwan Duck at  Tell them the Taiwan Adventure sent you.  Taiwan Duck is very high on our list of favorite Taiwanese (and apparently Italian) websites.  Check it out.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Taiwan Blog Review:  Shuflies

Screen Captures from Taiwan Duck Website
Video from Taiwan Duck TV

Monday, March 18, 2013

Aaaahhhh Guotie! 鍋貼啊﹗

Guotie, Corn Chowder and Soy Sauce...Aaaahhh Guotie!

If you've spent anytime reading this blog then you probably already realize that I love to eat.  I like Mexican food, I like American food, I can eat Indian and Thai food, but I absolutely love to eat Chinese Food, especially the Taiwanese versions of Chinese food.  One of my all-time favorites, at least at this writing is Guotie, or for my Mandarin challenged friends…Pot Stickers.

My first encounter with these took place at my sister, Lori’s house.  I watched her wrap the meat in what looked like Won Ton wrappers and make little hat shapes then cook them in the frying pan.  Her remembrance of this event may be a little different than mine, but I think that’s what she did.  In fact, I may be way off the mark here, because it must have been a long, long time ago, because this is a very vague memory.  She may think that none of this is even remotely accurate.  If that is the case, then remember I grew up in the sixties and well…some of you, the older ones know, how it was.

Gather From All Directions Restaurant
I was reintroduced to them after I arrived in Taiwan.  About two years ago a friend came to Taiwan to preach a revival for me.  One of the couples in the church went with us to lunch.  They knew this little restaurant and they said the food was great, and inexpensive.

This little restaurant is called, 不妨雲集, or in English, “Gather From Every Direction.”  I like that the name of the restaurant tells you exactly what to do. I know a place that sells, Milk tea and Pearl tea, that’s called, 來買 or in English, “Come Buy” I like that, there’s no beating around the bush.    Who knows, the direct approach seems to work.  At Gather From Every Direction, (henceforth known in this post as GFED,) they specialize in Guotie.  They have Pot Stickers of every kind. 

Guotie prices each
A Pot Sticker, for the uninitiated is really a fried dumpling.  They take the same filling as in 水餃, steamed dumplings and wrap it in the same type of dough, but instead of boiling it three times they fry it in a mixture of water and oil.  They serve Guotie that’s made with curry, some with shrimp, some with Korean spice and other varieties.  The Guotie are homemade, right there in the restaurant. 

When we arrived four women were happily chatting and filling the wrappers.  They were delighted to see us taking an interest in what they were doing and allowed us to take their pictures.

The food is delicious and indeed inexpensive.  W had a completely filling meal for NT $125 (approx. US $4.00).  The meal included 20 Guotie and a bowl of delicious Corn Chowder.  My wife loves the Corn Chowder; I’m not really all that into it.  It’s not that it’s not tasty; I just don’t like sweet soup all that much.

If you’re in Taoyuan City there are two locations.  One is on Zhong Shan Road (中山路) the other is on Zhong Hua Road, (中華路).  They are both delicious and the service friendly. 

I promised them this picture.  The Giggling Guotie Girls!

Other posts you may be interested in:

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Visit to the Lantern Festival in Zhubei, Taiwan

The National lantern festival is in Zhubei, this year.  The lantern festival is a traditional holiday that occurs two weeks after Chinese New Year for more detailed information of the tradition of the Lantern Festival please see Taiwanese Traditions:  The Lantern Festival (posted February 9, 2012).  There are actually two things of importance that take place on the Lantern Festival day.  There is the traditional release of sky lanterns in Pingxi, in Northeastern Taiwan.  People write a prayer or a blessing on the outside of the lantern and release it into the sky.

These lanterns usual are a bag with a cross piece on the bottom where a candle is placed.  The candle is lit and the air in the bag heated causing it to rise up into the sky.   They will continue to rise until the candle goes out and the air is no longer heated.  The lanterns are released simultaneously and thousands on lanterns rise into the sky, it’s quite a site and Pingxi is famous all over the world for the lanterns.

But there is the other festival where lanterns are created but not released into the sky.  My wife had an opportunity, this year, to take the train with a number of her friends and visit the National Lantern festival in Zhubei, in Northern Taiwan.

Photos:  Brenda Banducci