Greetings from Taiwan -

Hello from Taiwan. Joe Meiser and I are here this week. Despite the storm that ultimately caused us to miss our flight and stay in Japan on an unexpected lay over, it’s been a great week. We are here working on Salsa projects and planning 2010. While this trip is about work, I always get to enjoy & learn a little bit too. Today, I’d like to share what a typical formal Taiwanese vendor dinner is like and ask you “Are you a rich man, a working man or a poor man?”

Before I get started, I want to say that these are my experiences. They are based on several trips to Taiwan. They are certainly not fact. If I share my experience and it’s wrong, I’m sorry. If you actually know the truth or proper etiquette, please comment. If I’ve only gotten half of the story and you know the rest, share it. We want to learn.

To set the stage, think about your job and your organizational structure. Typically, the highest ranking person in your party sits next to the host. (This also means you drink the most!) You typically sit at a big round table with 8-10 of your friends, coworkers, partners and other important people. The table has a lazy susan in the middle that you turn to either serve or replenish your portion. Once you are seated, portion after portion of food is served. I’ve had as few as 5 or 6 and as many as 12-14 servings!

Depending on the event, there are one of three ways that food is served at your table.
1) It is a big formal dinner and you have a formal server. This means that for every course, the server divides up the food and serves you.
2) A secretary of the host functions as the table server and serves all the food.
3) You serve yourself when the food comes to you and then turn the lazy susan to the next person.

Today (Wednesday), we had a fun and special dinner with one of our favorite suppliers in Taiwan. This supplier makes our Salsa carbon fiber handlebars. Our relationship is very good and because of this, lunch is a bit more informal than most of the meals we have here. Today was option 3 (serve yourself).

Our lunch meal consisted of 6 courses today; jewel fried rice, oysters, squid, fish & mushroom soup, fried fish, & whole fish w/ginger. When the last serving came, our supplier turned the lazy susan to me to dig in for the first serving. Here in lies the question “Are you a rich man, a working man, or a poor man?”

If you are the first to serve yourself a portion of fish, what part you take answers the question. I did not know this as I dug in. After I turned the wheel for the fish to go to the next person, our supplier friend says to me “You are a rich man.” I ask if that was a question or a statement? He said “You took the belly of the fish so you are a rich man.”

So, here is your guide to self serving from a whole fish in Taiwan.

Stomach = Rich man because it is filled with fat and oil.
Spine area = Working man because the spine works hard for the fish to swim.
Head = Poor man because it is the left over.

So…If you are ever the first to serve yourself from a whole fish. Choose wisely.

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Jason Boucher

Jason Boucher

Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.


 blackmountaincycles |

How fun!  I love how the fish is prepared in the bottom photo - one of my favorite dishes there.

 Velodelphia |

Por favor,<BR>Por favor,<BR>Por favor,<BR><BR>Bring us a new Salsa scandium track bike from Taiwan!<BR><BR>Gracias y buen provecho!

 Kid Riemer |

Ahhhh Velodelphia, you are jumping the gun.<BR><BR>Stay tuned for the first of a series of Dear Salsa Claus posts next week.<BR><BR>We’ll attempt to gather a somewhat organized list of all your Holiday cycling wishes.

 Andrew |

Welcome!<BR><BR>If you come through Taichung and have a little time… look me up.

 Jason |

I love it! You’re Salsa’s very own Anthony Bourdain/Andrew Zimmern (Travel Channel). Keep the pics coming. I’d love to try some of that stuff.

 MG |

Thanks for the Lesson From the Head Table.  Though it’s clear you’re workin’ over there, your experiences are also greatly enriching.  I’m learning valuable global culture lessons from the comfort of my basement here in Nebraska… Livin’ vicariously through da’ Butcher—pretty good.<BR><BR>And I wasn’t surprised in the least that you ended up choosing as a rich man would.  You’re going to end up doing very well for yourself in life.  Heck, you already are!<BR><BR>Travel safely.  Talk to you soon.<BR><BR>Cheers,<BR>MG

 Head Honcho |

Man, I love these travel posts. I doubt I’ll ever get to Taiwan, but reading what you guys experience over there gets me just a little bit closer. Thanks!<BR><BR><BR><BR>oh, and bring back some goodies for us! bike goodies that is….

 Andrew |

My wife says they’re making things up as they go along… but it sounds good.  <BR><BR>Other eating rules:<BR><BR>The biggie is to move the bowl to your mouth and not your mouth to the bowl, lest you look like an animal when you eat. Don’t point with chopsticks. When the Suntory/Remy Martin/Scotch Whiskey comes your way… you have two choices… fake an allergy to alcohol, or fight to keep up.<BR><BR><BR>.

 blackmountaincycles |

“When the Suntory/Remy Martin/Scotch Whiskey comes your way…”  -  Oh, please don’t remind me!  The problem is if you have already drank some beer, the alergic bit doesn’t work.  It’s either all or none!  <BR><BR>One aspect of eating there that always intrigued me is during dinner, food is flying, people are talking, open mouths…yet after dinner, when the toothpicks come out, it’s cover your mouth while you poke away as your teeth.  <BR><BR>Dangit, I’m missing dinners there.

 Andrew |

“when the toothpicks come out, it’s cover your mouth while you poke away as your teeth.”<BR><BR><BR>Right!  LOL!!!<BR><BR>Food scraps should not be seen.. unless you’re putting them on the table cloth.  Bones, fat, and who knows ... goes on the table cloth. <BR><BR>As nice as those big banquets are… the best food can be found from street vendors and in the little restaurants. <BR><BR>One reason I stepped up my biking was because the food is so good I needed to increase the calories out.

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