Keith and I went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch today. I was very glad to see that they had bento boxes on their lunch menu. Bento boxes remind me of bian dangs in Taiwan, and I always want to remember Taiwan. I ordered my bento and Keith ordered whatever it was that he wanted, and when our food arrived, I was perfectly content and Keith wasn't. How he envied my bento! I had a full 8-piece California roll, a large scoop of rice with a bit of chicken teriyaki, a fabulous pork dumpling, a small salad, and a 5-piece tempura, including two large prawns. It was fantastic (aside from the very bitter salad). Keith's plate, on the other had, held only a large clump of rice, a few pieces of fried pork, and a whimpy coleslaw. I definitely ordered better.
"A lucky guess," Keith concluded.
The situation and the remark did remind me of a time when I wasn't so lucky in guessing my dinner. At the time, I had been in Taiwan for awhile, but I still couldn't read Chinese very well. I understood the basic characters for your common food, but aside from 'chicken', 'beef', 'pork', 'noodles', 'rice', and 'soup', I was never quite sure what I was eating.
On our first or second day as companions, Sister Vardeman and I stopped to eat at a random shop on the road. It was a new area for me and it was my first time being senior companion. Sister Vardeman had only been in Taiwan for 6 weeks, so we were both still very much learning. We went in, sat down, and had a glance at the menu. As neither of us could read the menu alone from differentiating the dishes with noodles and those with rice, we were at a loss--a loss, that is, until I had a brilliant idea.
Why not just pick something at random? Why not close your eyes, point, and be surprised?
So that is exactly what we did. We each took our turn, blindly scrolling the page. We then circled the item we chose and handed in our menus.
Sister Vardeman's dish was the first to be served. Wow, had she ever chosen well!! She was served sesame noodles--noodles with a creamy sesame sauce, carrots and cucumbers--one of my favorite dishes of Taiwan. Sister V definitely was happy with her meal.
My dinner was not too long in coming. After Sister Vardeman's astonishing good luck, I just knew that I was going to get something delicious too. As they set a large basin in front of me, I couldn't help but get excited. Taiwan has great soups and I was eager to see what kind I was about to eat. But as I peered into the broth and swirled my spoon around, I slowly became discouraged. I had seen this kind of soup before. And I hadn't liked it that time either.
I had ordered nothing less than cow tongue.