Sunday, October 05, 2008

Shaved Ice, Yuan Shu Ling

During a frigid torrential downpour in the middle of summer, I went back to the small town in Taiwan where I spent most of my childhood. It was only gloomy when we embarked on visiting our old elementary school, but the day became quite wet by the time we hit the old shaved ice store. I use the word "store" very loosely because it was just some tables set up in somebody's living room. In Slovenija they had similar house-restaurants called gostilnas, interspersed among tightly spaced houses. Unless you live in the neighborhood, these small eateries are hard to find, as they hardly post signs advertising their existence.

My old elementary school - It seemed much bigger when I was a kid. Perhaps if I were looking at the school from the perspective of the child laying on the ramp, it would still appear as big.My friend Angela seeking shelter from the rain under a lamp post. If you look carefully at the ground, you'll see how rainfall in Taiwan is unique (at least, I've never seen it in other places I've been to). When a droplet of rain meets its cousins on the ground, it doesn't merely join them in a big puddle. The droplet forms a bubble, floating on the surface of the puddles. Don't ask me why that is.What to do when there's a drenching storm outside? Eat shaved ice! Here's an alley much like the one where our shaved ice shop is located.
The brown one is chocolate flavored, and the yellow mound is passion fruit.
This one is called "trekking in the snow in search of berries."(踏雪尋梅 ta shue shun mei) The term is usually used to refer to the popular activity in Japan of trekking in the snow to look for cherry blossom trees in bloom, but the last word also means berries. Clever, eh? The little bit of yellow you see peeking out from beneath the strawberry syrup is passion fruit.

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