One of my absolute favorite things about traveling is food. I love food, I love to try new food, I will eat anything once (including the eyes, feet, brains, and testicles of various animals, dog, worms, and insects). But sometimes you just want something familiar - the comfort food syndrome. I experienced this in the worst way during my first trip to Taiwan.
A school-sponsored trip, a group of people from the Chinese language program were cooped up together in the ShiDa university’s dorm in Taipei. One of the girls and I were out wandering one evening when we were both struck with the urgent need for fried chicken. And conveniently enough there are a lot of KFCs in Taipei. Despite my willingness to be adventurous with culturally different foods I am a remarkably picky eater. When the question is foul, I don’t eat dark meat. This left me at somewhat of a disadvantage when ordering chicken.
At this point in my language study I’d had little experience with practical application, and ordering at KFC was not a chapter in our text book. So I did the next best thing.
I told the extremely startled people at the order counter that I wanted white meat. But since I didn’t know the words I simply said that “I want these” (要這些) while pointing at my breasts and flapping my arms in a gross misuse of the chicken dance.
And that I did not want these (不要這些) while running a finger illustratively up and down my arm then lifting my leg as high as it would go to do the same.
Needless to say the employees and other customers that night at KFC were experiencing something unique.
In the end I didn’t even need my charades because by then we were both so hungry we ordered a bucket (my friend being happy with the dark meat) and thought to share it with some of our other classmates. Of course by the time we got back to the dorm we were ravenous and so sneaked in by getting off the elevator a floor early, walking down the hall to go up the last flight via the stairs and thus avoid having to walk down the hall where all our classmates were. We locked ourselves her dorm room and devoured our treat. While I might normally have felt a little guilty for eating that much fried chicken, I kind of felt I’d deserved it.