It was only a couple days after I came back to Taiwan when my father decided to finally listen to me on my theory of food and jetlag; it goes as follows, “Awesome food is the best cure for jet lag.” So we went to Hana, one of the best teppanyaki places in Taipei. Here is some proof.
One of the best things about this place is the fact that everything happens in such a proximity to you: the food is cooked within an arm’s length to you, while the chef himself, a friend of my father, always engages us in conversation to reveal some things that sound awfully familiar.
“I started doing this more than thirty years ago,” He sprinkled a handful of spices upon the fish with an artistic flourish as a humble acknowledgment to my parents’ compliments. “It’s interesting to see the shift of the industry.”
“Kids these days are lazy, huh?” My father already began assuming.
“No, not just that,” Chef T said (I use this for the sake of anonymity). “It’s more like…our generation conditioned the kids today to be lazy. I don’t get as many apprentices as before, and yes, many of them just come here to ‘intern’ after actually getting a diploma from a culinary school…”
There are too many things that you cannot learn in a culinary school.
His statement made me wander long after I walked out of the restaurant: it’s not really just culinary school, but rather, school in general. Yet, there are also so many things that you cannot learn outside of an academic setting. Taiwan is no stranger to constantly fluctuating education policies, not unlike the US’s new SATs, common core and etc. Traditional Taiwanese schools are now leaning towards even more westernization as a system that originally hinges upon entrance exams as the sole determination for high schools and colleges changes to include extracurriculars and interviews in the application.
Can this really change the trend that Chef T described? Possibly. Perhaps it is the circle that I live in in the US, but it does appear to me that there are less people that plan to live the rest of their lives on their parents’ allowances among my US friends compared to my acquaintances in Taiwan.
The thought that I might have contemplated such a lifestyle plausible simply had I stayed in Taiwan made my full stomach lurch a little. But, for the most part, I was, once again, amazed by Hana in both food and inspiration.