I’ve been eating a wider variety of Taiwanese food. Lately, I’ve visited a vegetarian buffet restaurant that had really delicious food! I couldn’t identify what most of the food items were (OK, I couldn’t identify any of it!) but, I can say I really enjoyed it. I discovered a very nice coffeehouse restaurant near my home that has about the best atmosphere of anyplace I’ve visited here. The front wall is a sheet of plate glass which looks onto a serene patio and the music is always soothing, soft jazz. Quiet is not something often found in Chinese culture, but this place has it! Although I walk passed this place all the time on the way to Carrefour, I hadn’t visited it before because they have neither food photos nor English menus. With new friends who can handle themselves quite well in the language, I’ve been able to venture into the heretofore unknown.

Sunday night, I went to a fairly traditional restaurant. The outside of the building was decorated with intricately carved wooden shutters. Inside, diners were seated at one of many unique wooden tables, most of which were crafted from antique items which were boxed in wood and topped with glass. A painting of the face of Buddha glowing in the radiance of a nearby light along with other pieces of artwork indicated that this was probably a Buddhist restaurant, and therefore vegetarian. Some of the workers were able to speak some English and we were able to orders dishes of cheese with rice or noodles. The restaurant even had a library! I know this because the books had spine labels on them.

Meals here are usually ordered from a set menu which will include soup, entrée and a beverage. Salad and dessert are usually availabe in a higher priced set. In these Taiwanese restaurants, if beverages are served, they will be served after the meals. Food is delivered to the table as it becomes ready which means not everyone at the table will be served at the same time. There is no tipping!

Even with all these experiences, what I have to particularly note was Saturday’s dining at TGIFridays. Yeah, I have actually gone there so much that I’ve been given a special discount card. We Americans are used to varying our menus. We may have American food for a day or two followed by a day of Italian and then some Middle Eastern or Mexican. So, from time to time I have to switch up from the Taiwanese.

What I noticed here this time that I had never noticed before is that Taiwanese people will prefer to eat family style, the style offered in Taiwanese restaurants. Even in American style restaurants, groups will order several plates of food and place them in the center of the table. Diners will then take food from the plates and serve themselves. They well eat from smaller plates. The food will be ordered by the highest ranking person at the table, typically the father or grandfather. Since there is no tipping, American chains charge a service fee.

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