Yesterday I managed to go to a small shopfront restaurant for noodles. Taiwan is full of these little restaurants. Basically, the ground floor of a house is dedicated to a restaurant. There are usually 8 or 10 tables inside, with plastic tablecloths and plastic stools. Flourescent lighting is also the norm. There is usually a TV up in the corner, too. Don't worry, though, the food makes up for the noticeable lack of ambience. The kitchen is usually located outside, in front of the restaurant. I imagine this keeps things cool as well as serving as a natural--and quite efffective--advertisement. The smells wafting along my street vary from a vaguely sewery smell prevalent throughout my small crowded district to the fragrant hovering smells of multiple stands. Oh, and then there is 臭豆腐 Chou4 Do4 Fu--Stinky Tofu. Really, it smells...well, distinctive. Basically, it's fermented (that is, rotting) tofu that is fried or put in a broth. I haven't tried it yet. I am waiting for the Ma La Chou Doufu--the spicy stuff. I figure I will like it better anyway, so I'll hold out on this delicious enterprise a bit longer. So anyway, yesterday I met with a student who needs some extra help. She is the smartest in my class and her English is great, but there is an exam coming up this Saturday that she needed to practice for. Afterwards, since we both live within a stone's throw of each other, we went to one of these restaurants for 牛肉麵. Beef noodles. Essentially, Taiwan's equivalent of Vietnamese pho: it's everywhere, it's cheap, it's delicious, it's noodles and meat and veggies in broth. But the noodles are so good! I think they are egg noodles rather than pho's rice noodles. Very yummy at NT$60 (US$1.90) for a big bowl. I also learned that in Taiwan, unlike in Japan, you are not supposed to slurp your noodles. Or at least the rules aren't really clear here. The first meal I had in Taiwan was with Shuli's parents, who both slurped their noodles with gusto. Taking my cues from others, I have been slurping for a while now, only to learn that I probably shouldn't be. Often these sorts of issues are age related. The older generation (who grew up under Japanese occupation) slurps their noodles, while the younger generations feel that it is old fashioned.
So we have actually started to get some cool weather! I am quite excited about this, considering my inability to sleep well in my furnace of a room. I was actually chilly last night on my scooter. Welcome relief!
So I think rap sounds better in Chinese than in English. There is plenty of rap and DJ stuff here in Chinese, and I think the language works well for it because you just naturally sound angry (that is, to Western ears) when you speak Chinese. My landlord's husband, in fact, speaks with such enthusiasm and vigor that when he was explaining to me how to use the washing machine, I was actually thinking he was yelling at me for doing something wrong. Then I realized that he always speaks like that--this was perhaps one of his most tender moments. I have also found a station that plays old chinese music from the 1950s and 1960s. It is really great stuff! It sounds a bit like the musical numbers featuring Grace Chang in Tsai Ming Liang's "The Hole" (洞) or the music from Wong Kar-wai's "In The Mood For Love." A friend of mine named Vance who occassionally come here for business loaned me his guitar while he is in the States. I have been playing a little bit, but it seems logical to try to learn some Chinese tunes. Maybe a nice campfire song to sing as I sit next to the fiery glow of one of the huge paper money burning barrels!