I decided to get a turkey this year for Thanksgiving. I had originally invited a couple of friends over for dinner -- not even thinking about Thanksgiving -- and then promptly forgotten about it. On Tuesday, Craig called me up and asked if I was going to be serving turkey on Thursday?
"What are you talking about?" I asked, wondering why I would get a turkey and also why he cared about what I'd be eating.
"Well, to serve Doug and myself when we come over for a Thanksgiving dinner."
Getting a turkey in Taiwan isn't so easy. First of all, I don't have a car. So I need to borrow one or take it home in a cab. Second, I've only got a toaster oven. Stoves aren't that common here as Taiwanese prefer to fry their food. I decided to check out the restaurants, to see if I could order a whole, cooked turkey to go. But the ads usually said they needed three days or more advance notice. I googled: "Turkey, short notice Taiwan" and read through a Forumosa thread on the topic. Then, I noticed that Sampras and Federer would be playing tennis in Macau! I read the latest tennis rankings on tennis magazine online and wondered how Sampras would stack up against today's top twenty. I was starting to feel tired, so I went to bed.
On Wednesday, I was in Chiayi when my wife called. She said she could get a turkey from the Ambassador Hotel for NT$2800 (just under US$100). It would come fully-cooked, with stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, bread, Caesar salad and pumpkin pie. She said she could even pop by the hotel after work and pick it up. So, I invited a few more friends over at the last minute and we had a turkey dinner.
When my wife asked the Ambassador why they had last-minute turkeys, she was told that they weren't selling well this year because people were depressed about the economy. (They're predicting X'mas sales are going to be down in the US this year for the same reason.) Anyway, the turkey was delicious, not dry at all. The stuffing was nice and spicy, and the Caesar salad was really Caesar salad (in Taiwan, restaurants often substitute iceberg for romaine). My wife said her office had ordered one from the Lai Lai and that it cost NT$3000, no pumpkin pie, no salad and no stuffing. How does one bake a turkey without stuffing?
BTW, my friend Ben "Ben Goes to Taiwan, not Thailand" came by. He's says he has updated his blog, finally: http://taiwanben.wordpress.com/ Igor http://www.igorsitnikov.blogspot.com/ was also there. Igor told me an interesting story. About a week ago he was sitting in a park by Taipei Train Station (I forgot to ask him which one, but I'm assuming it was 2-28 Park). A police officer was making the rounds, asking people who were obviously Filipino or Indonesian to show their ID. The cop came over and asked a couple of Filipinas sitting next to Igor on the bench for their ID, but ignored Igor. Igor thinks it was because he's white. The police didn't ask people who looked Taiwanese for theirs either. I'm bringing this up because I think it's important. If I'd been sitting on the bench, I would've shown my ID. I might've also asked why he didn't look at everybody's ID. I'm also bringing this up because about a week ago, I was told this on Michael Turton's blog by a fellow named Thomas: "I spent in Taiwan were the most comfortable I have spent in Asia. I never once felt any xenophobia."