Eating in Taiwan: 6 Pointers

Taiwanese food is delicious. Even the pickiest traveler will find several dishes to enjoy (and to miss upon returning to the US). Because dining out is so cheap, travelers can enjoy eating out in Taiwan’s many restaurants.

But, Taiwanese eating customs can be very foreign to the American. To avoid confusion, follow these tips.

1. Write down your order

Some restaurants leave a pad of paper on each table. Mark the dishes you’d like to order, then bring the paper up to the register. This system is pay-in-advance. Expect to pay for your meal when you bring your order to the server.

If you’re not sure what to do, take a look around. Pay attention to what others in the restaurant are doing, and do the same.

2. Get a feel for chopsticks

Even soup in Taiwan is eaten with both a spoon and chopsticks. Forks are usually not available, so it’s a good idea to brush up on some chopstick skills before traveling to Taiwan. If you’re really having trouble, it might be best to just carry a fork with you–although you might get some funny looks from locals!

Need a few pointers on using chopsticks? Watch this tutorial from Sheryl Ng of pinc.stuff:

3. Dig in ASAP (or at least don’t be offended)

In the past, most Taiwanese restaurants were family style, meaning that everyone ate from each dish. Today, many restaurants have switched to Western style service: each person orders their own dish. Because of this history, many Taiwanese people do not consider it rude to start eating if you receive your dish before everyone else.

If your dinner companion starts eating before you’ve been served, don’t take offense. They aren’t trying to be rude; it’s just what they’re used to.

4. Take tea after the meal

American restaurants usually serve ice water with every meal. But, the Chinese believe that cold water can be unhealthy. Instead of ice water, Taiwanese restaurants serve tea.

Look for a giant pot of tea on the side of the restaurant, with small paper cups that customers can use to get their own tea.

Most Taiwanese people don’t drink anything at all while they’re eating. The tea is used to clean the palate after a meal is finished.

5. Get a yummy dessert

You won’t have to look far to find dessert in Taiwan. Just don’t expect Taiwanese desserts to be as sweet as American pie. Here are a few sweet selections that are popular with the Taiwanese–and visitors to Taiwan!

Treats from a bread shop

Bread shops carry delicious sugary treats in unusual flavors. (Try red bean!)

Shaved ice

Shaved ice (剉冰, cua2 bing1) consists of a scoop of ice cream smothered in a sweet fruit of your choice. Try shaved ice with mango. (Taiwanese mangoes are especially juicy and delicious.) Combine several flavors of shaved ice, or share with your friends. Most shaved ice dishes are huge, more than enough for a couple of close friends.

Boba milk tea

Boba milk tea (珍珠奶茶, zhen4 zhu4 nai2 cha2) is another popular treat. Black tapioca balls (珍珠, zhen4 zhu4) are mixed into milk tea (奶茶, nai2 cha2) to make this delicious concoction. When you order boba milk tea, you might be asked how much sugar (糖, tang2) you want in your drink. The normal amount of sugar is quite a lot, so ask for “half sugar” by saying “半糖” (ban4 tang2). If you don’t want any sugar at all, you can say “無糖” (wu2 tang2).

6. Watch the spice

Taiwanese food may be cooked with different seasonings than your body is accustomed to, so give your stomach a few days to adjust. When you travel to Taiwan, your body will be adjusting to the heat and a considerable time difference. Don’t overwhelm yourself with spicy and unusual foods.

In other words, don’t dig into the scrumptious night market food scene until Day 3 or 4 of your trip.

A Cookie-Cutter Life

How does the modern Russian person live? Just about the same way Russians have been living since the early 1960s.

Between a rock and a hard place

In an attempt to solve the issue of overcrowding in major cities, the Soviet government under Nikita Khrushev devised a plan to mass-produce apartment buildings. The goal was to move everyone out of communal living and into public housing. The new apartments gave residents the freedom of personal ownership, but were also very small and poorly constructed. This option was hardly ideal. The public would come to call these apartments khrushchovki (хрущёвки) after Khrushev.

Khrushchovki are still the most typical living arrangement across Russia, including in larger cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. Take a look at this short video tour of a khrushchovka, to learn about how Russians live today:

Make sure when you enter someone else’s house, that you take off your shoes. Usually, your host will provide you with tapachki (тапачки) (slippers) to wear while you are in the house.

Practice your Russian: Sanuzel (санузел) or tualet (туалет)?

Practice your Russian with the following words about living arrangements. Notice all the different types of bathrooms that Russians have!

  • kommunal’naya kvartira (коммунальная квартира) – communal apartment
  • kommunalka (коммуналка) – communal apartment
  • tipovoye zhil’yo (типовое жильё) – cookie-cutter apartment
  • khrushchovka (хрущёвка) – cookie-cutter apartment
  • komnata (комната) – room
  • kukhn’a (кухня) – kitchen
  • spal’nya (спальня) – bedroom
  • prikhozhiya (прихожия) – entryway
  • vannaya (ванная) – bathroom (contains a bath only)
  • sanuzel (санузел) – combined toilet and bathroom
  • tualet (туалет) – toilet (or bathroom with only a toilet and sink)

Movie Recommendation: Enjoy your bath

The cookie-cutter aspect of хрущёвки apartment buildings is commented on in the funny Soviet romantic comedy, “The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath.” The movie is full of footage of Russian apartments and daily life.

If you have a chance, rent it before you travel to Russia!

Speedy Internet Dictionary to the Rescue

Ehem, class. Please take your seats. Are you using WordReference.com yet? If you are learning a foreign language, you need to know this website.

Find translations, usage notes, and even verb conjugations in over a dozen languages. Dang. Check it out here:

 

 

Are you smitten yet? Once you’ve fallen in love with these dictionaries, check out the mobile apps for iPhone and Android or shortcuts in Chrome or Firefox.

Ready to dive into French language and culture?

Check out our France ForeignIQ service. Make the best of your trip to France by learning how to communicate and what (not) to do when you get there.

ForeignIQ is a unique subscription service that shows you how things get done in foreign places. Need to shop for clothes? Get directions? Schedule a meeting? ForeignIQ will get you ready.

Vous êtes d’où?

Nice to meet you! Where are you from? Listen as these French men and women respond to the question, “Vous êtes d’où?”

 

Listen carefully! Can you guess these words? Mouse over to reveal the answers.

If you can’t catch every word, don’t panic. Getting used to ambiguity is part of the language learning process. Have fun!

  1. Je suis française.
  2. Je suis de la nationalité française.
  3. Oui, j’ai grandi en France.
  4. Je viens de Saint Hippolyte du Fort. C’est un petit village dans le Sud de la France.

Driving Mishaps, Shopping Adventures and Americans in Paris

We had a blast hearing the funny stories from the French business people, actors, and comedians in ForeignIQ’s studio sessions. We talked about culture differences between Americans and the French.

A special “merci mille fois” to our lovely French culture experts Soraya, Arnoud, Renoud, Celia, Valetine and André!

Video Scavenger Hunt: Streets of Paris

If you wonder what Paris looks like beyond what you have seen in postcards, check out this travel video. See Paris from all sides as a young couple makes its way through a Parisian train station, up the Eiffel Tower and past the Louvre.

As you watch, keep an eye out for:

  • a rented Vélib bike
  • big, bright boulevards
  • l’Arc de Triomphe
  • les Jardins du Trocadéro
  • people traveling “en voiture”

The video is set to the music “Senegal Fast Food” by Malian folk duo Amadou and Mariam. The original music video is chock-full of footage–not of France, but of Senegal. Mali and Senegal were colonies of France until 1960.

Like the young man in the video, thousands of people immigrate to France each year from the former colonies. Since taking office in 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy has focused on immigration issues.

Ready to dive into French language and culture?

Check out our France ForeignIQ service. Make the best of your trip to France by learning how to communicate and what (not) to do when you get there.

ForeignIQ is a unique subscription service that shows you how things get done in foreign places. Need to shop for clothes? Get directions? Schedule a meeting? ForeignIQ will get you ready.

Deep Down, We’re All the Same. Or Are We…?

Looking for an in-depth read on the cultural differences between Americans and the French?  Look no further: Cultural Misunderstandings.

Written by Raymonde Carroll (translated by Carol Volk), this book will fill you in. Drawing on her personal experience as well as formal ethnographic field research, Raymonde Carroll exposes some deep issues that lead to cultural clash.

Cultural Misunderstandings is a well-written and engrossing read, full of humorous anecdotes to illustrate the points Carroll makes.

Are you married? Uh-oh.

Our panel of French men and women respond to the question, “Are you married?”. Watch and listen as they answer in their own words. One monsieur is now sleeping in the doghouse…

 

 

Listen carefully! Can you guess these words? Mouse over to reveal the answers. If you can’t catch every word, don’t panic. Getting used to ambiguity is part of the language learning process. Have fun!

  1. Je suis mariée.
  2. Je suis marié depuis quatre ans. Ma femme s’appelle Sarah.
  3. Je suis marié depuis quatre ans. Trois ans.
  4. Je ne réponds pas facilement quand on me demande si je suis mariée. Secret, chut!

Ready to dive into French language and culture?

Check out our France ForeignIQ service. Make the best of your trip to France by learning how to communicate and what (not) to do when you get there.

ForeignIQ is a unique subscription service that shows you how things get done in foreign places. Need to shop for clothes? Get directions? Schedule a meeting? ForeignIQ will get you ready.

Shopping for Clothing…in Your Pajamas

(And yes, that’s still a big deal to the French.) Get up to speed with French clothing vocabulary by visiting the website for a major department store. Our recommendations: Galeries Lafayette or Le Printemps. (Be sure to choose “versione français”!) Learning by context is one of the most efficient ways to pick up new vocabulary words. So dive into the world of online shopping and see if you can figure out each of these terms:

  • à suivre…
  • bonne affaires
  • compte
  • livraison
  • luxe
  • marques
  • paiement sécurisé
  • panier

 

 

While you’re browsing, check out “Les Vitrines” for a glimpse of the latest fashion displays. Happy shopping!

Ready to dive into French language and culture?

Check out our France ForeignIQ service. Make the best of your trip to France by learning how to communicate and what (not) to do when you get there.

ForeignIQ is a unique subscription service that shows you how things get done in foreign places. Need to shop for clothes? Get directions? Schedule a meeting? ForeignIQ will get you ready.

Happy Hour in Song

What catchy song is buzzing in our ears this week? Belgian-Rwandan hip-hop star Stromae has us dreaming of happy hour.

Yeah, this song had its moment way back in 2010 (even before Kanye jumped on board). But the the workweek still has five long days. Alors? Alors on danse.

Ready to dive into French language and culture?

Check out our France ForeignIQ service. Make the best of your trip to France by learning how to communicate and what (not) to do when you get there.

ForeignIQ is a unique subscription service that shows you how things get done in foreign places. Need to shop for clothes? Get directions? Schedule a meeting? ForeignIQ will get you ready.