Tuesday, December 27, 2011

week 66_Christmas In Taipei!

I wrote this article for another publication, but figured it is about what I might usually post to the blog, so here you have it folks --- just a little bit about our first Christmas together in Taipei. :)

My desserts (L to R):
Cherry Wine Cake (x3), Pecan Pie (x2), Fudge, Apple Pie, Christmas Sugar Cookies

Sharing the Christmas Spirit

When it comes to the Christmas holiday, Taipei seems ready to share the commercialism and flashy decor, but for a foreigner spending my holidays away from ‘home,’ it’s the Christmas Spirit that I miss the most. In the south central US where I was raised the building anticipation prior to Christmas is almost tangible. Moods are light, hopes are many, and even the most cantankerous Grinch may surprise you with a moment of compassion.

For our first Christmas together in Taipei my husband and I took on the ambitious task of hosting a large Christmas feast. Being overseas for the holidays means missing time with loved ones and holiday traditions, but we decided that the best medicine for any homesickness would be to throw a traditional American Christmas lunch!

As foreigners in Taipei, we are lucky to have the world at our fingertips. This city truly offers the variety of dining and shopping from the world over.  Western foods, kitchen wares, etc. may be hard to find but it seems that anything can be found here if you know where to look. From City Super to Costco, from IKEA to Wellcome, the abundance of supermarkets selling western foods made it possible for us to prepare our favorite tastes of home! We may have substituted limited items and improvised a few recipes for convenience, but no grocery seems to be unobtainable in Taipei.

After days of planning, shopping, and scouting I now feel that I may be an expert of Western grocery items in Taipei. In the end, with our table overflowing and our apartment packed to the seams, I think our Taiwanese friends could feel our Christmas spirit. I almost laughed when a friend asked if we had a heated apartment. I answered “No, but we have been baking for two days, and now we’re trying to fit 30+ people inside!” Sitting down on the sofa to breathe our sigh of relief once the celebration had come to a close, my husband and I opened our presents under the tree – our apartment still smelling of turkey and pie, now further disheveled with mountains of disposed gift wrap and bows – it felt exactly like Christmas.

With the help of my Mom, Sister, and Aunts I was able to fix my favorite family recipes for the holidays. It turns out the only ingredients I was truly unable to find in the end were: 1. French Fried Onions, 2. Dark Corn Syrup, 3. Buttermilk --- but even these I probably would have found with more time and a few pointers from the expat community, not to mention I could have made one or more of them from scratch with more time!

Most importantly, I am just so thrilled to have shared the holidays with my hubby and pleased that we enjoyed ourselves so much. It was crazy cooking for 30 people and we had a blast doing it together! :) We are enjoying the week between holidays leading up the New Year's Eve. We live near TAIPEI 101 and they are famous for their New Year's firework displays! We are guaranteed to have some of the best seats in the house... so the next blog post may be a video :)

Merry Christmas to all! Hope your days have been merry & bright.


  1. Impressive dessert spread! Your apartment must have a 'real' oven - a rare thing here in Taiwan and something that I miss immensely around the holidays. And as a FYI - you can find French's fried onions at Wellman's in TienMu (ZhongShan road near Taipei American School) and I make my own buttermilk by adding a bit of vinegar to regular milk & letting it sit a bit (works well enough for pancakes). I cannot say that I have ever seen dark corn syrup although I also have not looked for it... Merry Christmas y'all!

  2. Ha! Well, Merry Christmas to y'all too!

    Thank you, thank you ~ the desserts are my specialty. Sadly, NO, I do not have a "real" oven, but I put our little countertop toaster oven to work for two days, preparing smaller sized pies and cakes (hence the reason I prepared so many...)

    I don't get up to TienMu often, but I have heard that there are more Western goods there... thanks for the tip!