Monday, October 29, 2012

Friends & Food

Dinner and a Movie

My weekend started on Thursday. I say this because I hardly ever go out on a "school night". My friend invited me to a movie screening, Hope Springs, and we decided to have some dinner beforehand. We were going to take the healthy fish and salad route, so that we could stuff our faces with pop corn guilt free, but we saw Yume, a sushi and noodle place, and just had to go in.

First up the tempura prawns. I don't really remember ever having tried one, but these were delicious. The prawns arrived stacked up with a delicious wasabi mayonnaise. There were only three per plate, so we had to get another just so that we each ate the same amount. Next up was the dim sum. Spinach and cream cheese is my favorite. And then we just had to try the sushi, salmon all the way baby. 

Movie time! I felt like a pseudo celeb, we didn't have to pay for anything, got our names ticked off a list (I was the plus one) and got popcorn and a soda. They had laid out all of the possible popcorn flavorings and my friend joked that depending on the flavor you chose, can say a lot about you. I am a salt & vinegar kind of gal. Make of that what you will. Hope Springs stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones and focuses on the elderly couple trying to spice up their marriage. A really sweet movie but one that you should never ever watch with your parents for fear of catching them giving each other a knowing glance at one of the scenes in the movie. You have been warned. 

Dinner and some Trivia

It was officially the weekend and time for a spot of trivia in the form a quiz night. I love quizzes. I have only attended one prior to this one, but it was kind of a big deal, because it was at Hooter's and we came second. Our team name was the only one that made no reference to breasts. This quiz night was so much fun because it mixed the old and new. The theme was audio and visual and definitely made you put your thinking cap on  (or dunce cap depending on the individual). 

We were a mixed aged crowd and when the first question "In what year did the iPhone first come out?" was asked, all eyes were on us. You think we would know it but we didn't. We were wrong by one year, but on quiz night, that is not good enough. We got some anagrams, flags and logos which were easy enough, although I have come to accept that I suck at anagrams. We also got close ups of objects, which we then had to guess. Not as easy as it sounds. 

The best part was guessing artists, song titles and lyrics. My friend, who listens to metal, knew the answers for Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber songs. We also got served some amazing food and delicious cake. In the end we came fourth, which wasn't all bad as we still got a prize. We were each the proud new owners of a slab of Cadbury Bubble. 

Dinner and a Sleepover

On Saturday I was invited to my BFF's house for a home cooked meal. Yum! She makes the best food. She was making chicken in coke, which is a specialty at her house, and even though I have known her and her family for almost my entire life, I only tried this dish about a year ago. (I made this dish and will post the recipe tomorrow). It was great to catch up, laugh and just hang out. It is awesome to have friends who you can just chill with without having to have any activities planned.  
We thought about renting a movie, but both admitted we would just probably fall asleep. Early to bed. Ha ha. 

Dinner and a Goodbye

After a few weeks of cancellations, I was going to teach my Chinese friend some English. She had sent me a message saying that she was going back to China, and I thought this was just her annual trip back home. When I arrived on Sunday, she broke the news. A few weeks ago her boss had told everyone at the South African subsidiary company that they were to go back to China. A lot of her friends were visiting and she invited me out for a farewell dinner. 

I was at the table with my friend and expats. In Chinese culture you often sit at a round table with a lazy susan in the centre. Meals are all about being very social and sharing. Contrary to Western norms, you order numerous dishes that you will all share. Everyone is given a bowl, spoon and chopsticks. One person placed the order and the Laoban (boss) insisted that our ten plates of food would not be enough. So we ordered more. The food never stopped coming! Eventually someone had to ask if the was the last dish because we already had three dishes on the table that had remained untouched. 

My chopstick skills are not at wizard level, but I can eat fish, noodles and rice pretty well. One diner jokingly asked if I could use chopsticks, and I could confidently say yes. I too have laughed at newbies to the chopstick scene who try and navigate a bowl of soup or rice. There are definitely things I miss about Taiwan, the food being one of these things. A friend joked that one of the food groups in Taiwan was congealed, and when I first arrived I hated this. But now I miss it. Luckily I was treated to some Suan La Tang (sour spicy soup) and yes it was congealed. Yum!

 It was great to meet all of my student's friends. I know all about this type of expat camaraderie, as that was four years of my life. Saying goodbye was sad, because you know that although you will chat on Skype and keep in contact, you probably won't see them again.