Sunday, March 16, 2008

Good to be home / Drinking 101...

As much as I enjoyed my trip to Taiwan, it makes coming home that much better. One of the things I enjoy in Taiwan is lunch at a local restaurant. Sitting around a big round table as piles of food are laid out on the Lazy Susan while beer flows freely with calls of "hodala" and "kanpai" abound is a favorite activity. "Hodala" and "kanpai" are the equivalent of "bottoms up" and you are expected to drain your glass - usually a small 3-4 oz. size. However, a lot of 3 oz. glasses add up quickly. A call of "cheers" means you only need to take a small (half glass) drink.

Drinking in Taiwan is an activity that requires a strategy. Taiwanese businessmen enjoy drinking and drinking as part of a business meeting results in better business relationships. Being a "strong" drinker nets you an elevated standing in those relationships. I'm definitely not a strong drinker, but I know how long a typical business lunch will last and I know what my tipping point is. Knowing these two, I can keep up nicely which results in a reputation I earned in Taiwan as being strong. Good acting is what I call it.

Rule #1: Don't drink by yourself. You are going to be drinking a lot of beer. No need to take a drink by yourself because it only compounds your intake. If thirsty, take a sip of tea.

Rule #2: Don't drink unless you've been asked to drink. If you are the lone customer sitting around a table with a dozen or so other Taiwanese parts makers, you will be requested to drink with each of them on multiple occasions. No sense compounding your intake.

Rule #3: While observing rule #2, you should, as a gracious customer, make an offer to drink with each of the other drinkers around the table.

Rule #4: Don't use rule #3 to make an offer to drink with a co-worker or other customer who might be sitting at the table. No sense compounding your intake.

Rule #5: When your host asks you what you would like to drink at the beginning of the evening, request beer. If they ask if you prefer wine or beer, always, always pick beer. Otherwise, you will be pounding wine instead. Think about it, 4.3% alcohol by volume or 14% - you figure out the result.

Rule #6: Eat a lot of food to help fill up your stomach. And eat at least something of everything that is served. Refusing to eat is bad form. And let's face it, you aren't a picky 10 year old kid anymore who won't eat your peas. Overall, the food is exceptional.

Rule #7: Enjoy the experience. It's fun.

But it sure if nice to be back home in quiet Point Reyes.

The main street this morning.

What a typical street in Taiwan looks like. No brainer which is nicer.

(What's playing: The Carpenters I Won't Last A Day Without You)