Last Wednesday was a holiday here in Taiwan, 中秋節 （zhōngqiūjié）, also known as the Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival.
My parents were in town for the holiday (which was on Thursday in Hong Kong) so we received some much-needed babysitting from the grandparents. This was good timing as last week also happened to be our 4th wedding anniversary!
One of the classic hallmarks of the Moon Festival is moon cakes (月餅, yuèbǐng). Moon cakes are typically given to suppliers, staff, and anyone else you don’t like … er … they’re a lot like Christmas cake in Western countries – that is, they are passed around and when you get them, you often give them to somebody else! 🙂 However many Chinese and Taiwanese people love to get them, and unlike Christmas cake, moon cakes actually taste pretty good. That is, unless you get one of the “traditional” ones with the egg yolks inside.
Tastes great, until you get to the, not one, but TWO egg yolks inside!
I took home a box from my work as we were overflowing with moon cakes and other treats before the holiday. Thankfully this box contained one of the best treats available in Taiwan: pineapple cakes.
MIPS inspecting the merchandise
Mmm ... I love pineapple cakes. I devoured half of these myself.
For dinner on Wednesday night we chose to go to N°168 Prime Steakhouse in the Grand Victoria Hotel (維多麗亞酒店) in 內湖 （Nèihú）. The Australian Wagyu beef was incredibly good and it was a great way to celebrate the festivities. At the end of the meal we were given the other hallmark of Mid-Autumn Festival, a Pomelo (柚子, yòuzi). I love 柚子 as they’re like a grapefruit but sweeter, and they’re in season at this time of year. Also this week, we just found a great fruit market near out apartment so we’ll be buying up their 柚子 stock while it lasts!
As we’ve noted in a previous post, we have a garbage service. 3 days a week a man comes to our place to collect our trash and recyclables since our building has no disposal system. After the first collection we were told that we are using the wrong bags and we need to get the “right” garbage bags – the blue ones. Thinking this was some sort of preference of our little man, I willingly obliged and scouted the various 7-11 and Family Marts in our area for blue bags. (maybe he will be safer on his scooter with the right bags) Orange, black, lime green, lilac coloured? all present, but no blue. Odd. So i do some internet searching.
Turns out that the city government requires you to purchase special government approved bags. blue bags. If you don’t use the right bag, your garbage won’t be accepted. Apparently to recycle, you can use any bag, cheaper bags, so this should encourage you to recycle. (for what its worth, the Taipei City Government statistics show that the volume of household garbage has declined 67 percent since the bag-fee policy was imposed, so the system is working). Of course the government site doesn’t have a picture so i still don’t know what these bags look like. Thankfully the internets saves me and i found another expat blog that photographed his ordeal too.
Well this all sounds very progressive and enlightened, so knowing what they look like off i go to find these bags. It took 3 days and 7 stores to find them. Very well hidden. You’d think they’d be displayed alongside the regular kitchen garbage bags, perhaps alongside the household items – no that would make sense. Instead these were hidden at the checkout along side candy, gum and other impulse items. Why? why put them there? why make it so painfully hard to find?? Here is what they look like by the way:
Notice the government seal in the top right? that prevents fakes
Although, I will say this is not the first time i’ve played the game: where would random item be in the grocery store.
Here is where my baby formula is sold:
safely behind lock and key right beside the liquor
Yes, you see that right. After 2 days of searching the shelves of every grocery store in our area we found it locked away in a glass case beside the liquor. Obviously. If ever there was a Taiwanese version of supermarket sweeps – i would do chasing my tail lost in the wrong aisle.