a brilliant azure sky, warm sun, and the smell of summer (never mind that it’s december)…
We were driving with Zhen a-yi, up the winding roads of yuan ming mountain, spectacular glimpses of Taipei peeking through the bamboo with each turn. She did the relay race with my mother: Aunt Zhen as 3rd leg and my mom as the anchor. They struggled to remember the other two. Their team was provincial champion, and while only in high school they once did a surprise upset of the national team. Zhen a-yi has a deep husky voice that a life-time of yelling produces–she reminded me at once of my own phys ed teacher in junior high. And she is hilarious.
“I like travelling to Japan because¡ well, when you go to Korea, or the Philippines, or Vietnam you can’t figure out what they’re saying. At least I can read a bit in Japan and get what’s going on. [Since traditional Japanese characters, kanji, are taken from Chinese.] Who wants to travel any other way?”
She brings us to this restaurant on the mountain for some wild vegetables and free-range chicken. Hollow greens. Dragon’s beard. Cabbage, bean noodles, young bamboo shoots. And the most delicious sweet ginger broth with two kinds of yams (one orange, one yellow) that you scoop out yourself from the huge vat out front. Heavenly.
Unfortunately the day later went into a downward spiral as we went by the ‘studio’ to pick out dresses for the photo shoot in a few days. Nothing is more emasculating (somehow that seems to me a better word than de-feminizing) as trying on hideous ball gowns (yes, ball gowns) that fit the average (smaller) Chinese woman.
And then while I was feeling nice and fat, we went for another multi-course teppenyaki meal for my jo-ma’s birthday. Abalone, Australian lobster, steak, horse tartar, chocolate bombs.