Sunday, July 29, 2012

taiwan dinner boxes

Taiwan is known for it's food and their famous night markets so its no surprise that people assume I'm gorging myself on amazing and delicious food every day. The sad truth is that because work doesn't usually end until 9:20 pm that the majority of us have dinner delivered to us. Our school is located in a small town and isn't close to any restaurants which limits what we can eat. Most often the meals ordered are dinner boxes or bowl of noodles that are mass produced and affordable to the students. When I say mass produced I mean there are "restaurants" that specialize in making dinner/lunch boxes and they always have long lines. So here are some examples of the food I've eaten in the months I've been here.
All these dinners cost around $2-3 USD and these are generous sized portions for the price. I can't imagine ordering a full meal for anything less than $5 USD in America. In the beginning they were pretty yummy then imagine ordering the same boxes day after day and it grew tiring fast. Sometimes I would eat the same dinner box two or more times a week and that itself is nauseating. (I know real first world problems here) Nowadays if I can I'll try to find alternatives besides ordering take out. The children would get the same size portions as the adults and they always finish it. I don't know how they manage to stay so skinny if they are eating meals meant for adults. I usually don't finish mine and I get crap from people for wasting food. I try to give it to students to finish or something but these meals aren't something that I would save for the next day. What do you think? Does it look delicious and appealing?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

microwavable meals

During my last year in San Diego I was constantly eating those one dollar microwavable meals. After avoiding those meals for years cause the pictures on the box didn't even look remotely appealing, I succumbed. I initially bought them because I was working as an intern at a medical office that didn't really have anywhere close by to eat and I wasn't down to spend so much money everyday for a meal. Then because I also had two other jobs and was basically working 60 hour weeks I didn't have time to make a meal or the energy to go out and eat so I just bought those one dollar meals in huge quantities and ate them whenever I was hungry. The meals were surprisingly OK tasting except for the huge quantities of salt they used (no complaints here since I love salt) but everyone was saying that it was so unhealthy for me. No matter how delicious those meals were, they have nothing on the microwavable meals that can be found in the convenience stores in Taiwan. The microwavable meals here are more like packaged meals that you just happened to need a microwave to heat up and not actually flash frozen and meant to last a year in the freezer.

So before I gained the confidence to go out and actually eat at restaurants by myself and before I actually learned enough Chinese to order some food I resorted to eating these microwavable meals. The meals here are pretty delicious and sell for just $2 USD! Some of my friends think that I've been eating amazing meals everyday but the harsh reality is that with work, my lack of Chinese skills and general laziness, I don't really get the chance to eat as much good things as I could.
chicken potatoes rice curry!
cheese, rice, chicken and peppers!
rice, tofu and pork covered in sauce
pasta with bacon - alfredo sauce?
noodles with mushroom and chicken
These are just some of the meals I've had over the past year but they were all pretty delicious and I've eaten most of them more than once. They tend to just go for alfredo sauce for all the noodles but that is better than constantly eating lunch boxes at school. I'll do a separate post about what I eat for dinner another time. I usually ate the above meals during the weekends if I was staying at home and was too lazy to actually get dressed up to go to a restaurant. I love how convenient convenience stores are! There are two a couple minutes walk from my house and all convenience stores are open 24 hours! I really wish America had more of these. The only 7-11's I know back home are so far away from each other and they look super shady and dirty. No clue if they are opened 24 hours but they definitely cannot compare to the ones that can be found in Taiwan.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

in which I overshare about my oral hygiene

So it's been half a year already since I last went to the dentist and I was getting desperate. My teeth were getting into a really bad state, probably from all those milk teas I drink. I think I'm too spoiled by the water in the states. I never gave a thought about how nice it was to have fluoride in our water that helped keep my teeth clean. I mean how big of a difference could it be if it's not enough to kill you? Well after being in a country that doesn't do that, I can state that the fluoride was a blessing!! Can't wait to go back to SF and swirl my mouth with fluoride-laced water.

Not even a couple months after my first visit I already wanted to go back for another teeth cleaning. However I learned that Taiwan has the same two teeth cleanings a year just like in America so I had to wait till now to go back and see the dentist. Either wait or pay $1000+ for a teeth cleaning! Ouch.

Since I had some experience I asked the dentist, a different one, if she could work harder on my teeth. I told her I didn't mind if it was painful as long as it actually cleaned my teeth. Well this was when the dentist, who actually grew up in Canada, told me about the differences between teeth cleanings in North America and Taiwan. In America a teeth cleaning is the whole shebang: drills, picks, fluoride, water hose and I don't know the technical names or methods but we get it all until your teeth is sparkling or as sparkling as its gonna get. Here in Taiwan a teeth cleaning involves just that drill thing that vibrates and cleans the plaque buildup on your teeth. THAT IS ALL! No wonder it didn't hurt.

So a little background on my teeth, an appealing story for all to hear, I have pretty shit-astic teeth. It stains pretty easily hence why I haven't drank any carbonated drinks since I've been in middle school. I can imagine the blackness that would cover my teeth if I added sodas to the equation. I hate all the people who drink soda and coffee every day two or three times a day and their freaking teeth stay shiny and white. disgusting. Anyways the dentist told me that health insurance only covers teeth cleaning which just getting rid of plaque/calcium buildup. Anything beyond that is considered aesthetics and needs to be paid out of pocket. Ugh wtf. I consider staining something that could potentially lead to cavities so shouldn't that be prevented for in my dental insurance?!? Of course this totally makes sense now why ppls teeth in Taiwan aren't very pretty because looking nice isn't covered under insurance. To be honest though most adults have perfectly fine white teeth, it's just the children whose teeth make me shudder. Children who probably hate brushing their teeth and here dentists can't even make them look nicer w/o charging an arm and a leg!

The dentist was nice enough to give me a water abrasion which was basically just those jets of water that shoot at my teeth. She was making it out like it would hurt a lot and would be painful on my gums so I was bracing myself and then when it occurred I was like this is what happens during a regular check-up back home! A full mouth water abrasion costs around $3000 NT! Thankfully the dentist didn't charge my for it since it was my first time but after the water abrasion she didn't do the rest of the teeth cleaning. She said my teeth were fine and well maintained and there wasn't any plaque build-up. I just had those surface stains cause of the pits and grooves in my teeth which she cleaned so easily with that water blasting thing. I asked her how I could keep my teeth sparkly white when obviously my toothbrush is too big to reach the grooves in my teeth (miniscule mother-fers). She just shrugged and told me to come back for a teeth cleaning in a year or half a year if I wanted. Ehhh WTF?? I can't wait to go back to my dentist in America where they not only clean my teeth, they also polish it to get rid of those fking grooves so my teeth stay healthy.

Sorry for sharing such gross details about my teeth but now at least peoples who plan to stay in Taiwan for an extended time know what to do about their teeth while here. Unless of course you're one of those ppls who has healthy white teeth no matter what you eat or drink. Then I hate you.