Taipei Diary. Road trip, day 2.
We have an early buffet breakfast (not-very-bitter bittermelon! green beans! Various kinds of pickled vegetables, none of which I can identify! Oh yes, and waffles and congee, plus soy milk) and then wander around some nearby greenhouses and garden nurseries. The town we are staying in - I never did figure out what the place was called - is a patchwork quilt of nurseries and fields growing flowers and plants that get shipped all over the island, to flower markets and florists shops and nurseries. We go to half a dozen or more nurseries, picking up a couple of (small) trees along the way, which have to be arranged somehow in the (very small) backseat of my mother's (very small) car.
By now, I want to go home. I don't like the humidity. My pants are sticking to my butt. Every step feels like I am wading through mud. I am tired of heaving myself out of the backseat (can you tell I am not used to sitting in the back of a two-door coupe) with the grace of a hippopotamus being reluctantly pulled from the swamp. I want to throw myself on the ground and kick and scream like a four-year-old, but I am twenty-five years too old for that. I understand, finally, somewhere around the seventh greenhouse, that my parents are taking me around Taiwan, not just to torture me or spend more time with me, but to show me where they are from, in the time we have left. I feel ashamed that I am not treasuring this experience more, but it is humid and my camera weighs heavy around my neck and I am out of sorts.
We head to a restaurant called "Grandma's Private Cuisine," or something like that. It is big and bustling, catering to the (mostly local - I have seen maybe two Caucasian faces this entire weekend; most visitors seem to come from Taichung, relatively close by, instead of Taipei, all the way up north) tourists. They come by bus or car, or park at a big central lot and rent those two-or-four person bicycle carts that have cute little roofs for shelter as you pedal around the fields. We have rice - which comes with little chunks of sweet potato - and red-braised pig's feet, a sort of omelette with scallions and bits of dried preserved radish, fresh and hot and nicely browned. There is soup with dried pickled cauliflower and daikon radish, and a slightly oily sautéed eggplant. I feel less cranky, but mostly because we are leaving after lunch.
Like the rest of the meals we've had, the cooking is simple and straightforward, fresh and quickly served, perhaps a little oily for our tastes, but overall excellent. Time to pile back in the car, and head home.