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下個星期我有一群外國朋友要來台灣,我跟他們約好了要用一個上午的時間帶他們逛逛台北。我找了公司的兩個同事,加拿大來的Ian跟澳洲來的Riana,來聊聊我計畫的這個行程。

 

「There are some friends of mine coming to Taiwan next week, and I promised to show them around next Friday morning. I think parks and markets are the most active places in the morning, so I’d like to take them to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and the South Gate Market. You are foreigners, so I’d like to ask for your opinions. Do you think these two places are interesting? 」

 

「Why these two places? Are there any reasons? I don’t get it.」Ian顯然不知道我葫蘆裡賣的是什麼藥。

 

「Every morning, near the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, people exercise in groups. I think it’s very Chinese, so foreigners may be interested to know about it and see it.」

 

「You mean people workout together in the morning?」

 

沒錯,而且去那邊運動的人,還會依年齡層在不同的時段聚集,從事不同的活動。練甩手功或打太極拳的老人家多半在清晨時分出現,晚一點可以看到練武術或打拳的熟年族群,接下來是中年婦女們的國標舞或土風舞時段。

 

「Yes, what do you think? Is it attractive enough for foreigners?」

 

「Well, it sounds like a unique habit of Chinese people, because we don’t do this. We prefer going swimming or jogging, or going to the gym by ourselves.」

 

「If you think it’s special, then I think they will feel the same way. That’s why I want to show this to them.」

 

晨運可以算是華人特有的生活習慣。華人在數千年的農業文化中,已經形成了依歸於團體活動的文化特色。團體活動可以產生團體紀律,在晨間運動時採用這種活動型態,無形中有互相提醒的作用,這種他律的存在,降低了自律的成分,可以減少參與者本身的心理壓力,卻提高了晨間活動的效果,這就是華人偏愛團體運動的原因。西方人比較重視個人生活空間及習慣,所以也就比較不需要依靠團體活動帶來的他律效果。

 

「How about the South Gate Market? What are you going to do there?」

 

我告訴他們,在南門市場可以看到蠻多有特色的中國食物,比如臘腸、臘肉、粽子等等,還有一些我猜外國人會感興趣的零食,像蜜餞、烤肉乾或烤烏魚子,這些都可以試吃。

 

「I will take them to the famous Din Tai Fung Dumpling House for brunch, and then relax.」

 

「Ben, this itinerary sounds just wonderful. Next time when you’re holding a half-day tour like this, please let us know – we’d like to come with you.」

 

聽到Riana這麼說,我才開始放心。說實在話,這幾天我一直有點緊張,因為我那群朋友下一站要去日本京都,我可不能讓台北輸給京都啊。

 

「You know, this is going to be a cultural tour as well. Here, I came up with some

questions for them to discuss. Would you take a look at them for me?」

 

Dining for Business – From Asian Eating Culture to Asian Business Ecology

 

1. Why do the Chinese steam cook so often? How is this related to their business ecology?

2. The host has the obligation of ordering dishes in a restaurant. How does this reflect their business mentality? Can western people comprehend key considerations of the host in food selection?

3. The Chinese often use round tables for formal meals because rectangular dining tables are considered very impolite. Why?

4. Why were the chopsticks invented?

5. Why do you think Chinese share plates for meals?

6. We call ourselves the “people of rice” and westerners the “people of wheat”. Are there any hidden conflicts in the thinking methodology between these two kinds of people?

「These topics are great. They are interesting. I’d like to know these answers myself.」Ian很捧場,希望到時候我那些朋友也都能像他這樣。

 

這些問題我的確都有答案了,不過我只回答他們一題。「You can pick one that interests

you the most, and I’ll tell you the answer. As for the rest, why don’t you try to

find the answers by yourselves? Maybe you will find something different from me.」

 

結果他們挑了第三題。第三題跟第五題其實是有關聯性的,所以我就一起講了。中國人的餐桌傳統上是圓的,而西方人的餐桌不是方形就是長型。圓桌與方桌的區別,最大意義在於「分配」。坐在圓桌上進餐是華人的傳統,它代表了圓滿與公道,也讓每個人都可以夾到菜,各取所需。西方人尊重個人的獨立性,盤具與食物都是一人一份,不需大家分食菜餚,所以沒有坐圓桌的必要性。

 

「Ben, you are a very good entertainer. I think you can lead a brilliant discussion on that day.」看來Ian對我還真的蠻有信心的。

 

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去過了中正紀念堂跟南門市場,上午十點鐘,我們來到了鼎泰豐。這時店門才剛開沒多久,人潮還沒有湧現,正好可以讓我這些外國朋友悠哉的體驗中華麵食的魅力。趁他們還在興高采烈的討論剛剛的所見所聞時,我幫他們點了蒸餃、酸辣湯、豆沙小包,外加幾樣頗有名的小菜。當然,最不能錯過的還是這裡招牌的小籠湯包。

 

說起這裏的小籠湯包,會讓外國遊客抱著朝聖的心情前來品嚐,並不是沒有原因的。光是製作工序就十分考究,麵皮要桿的既圓且薄,中央稍厚,每張都要達到直徑5.5公分的標準規格。內餡是新鮮豬絞肉及豬皮凍,包入皮中時,為了美觀及口感,摺數也規定了是十八摺,不能多也不能少,不信各位下回可以數數。最後,還要確定成品的重量剛剛好是21公克,才能放入蒸籠。當然,這其中還有多少細節是師傅花了功夫琢磨出來的,我們不得而知,不妨就用舌尖來感受一下吧!

 

大家喝了口茶,正在欣賞牆上的字畫,小菜就端上來了。我看著這幾個朋友拿起筷子,開始跟泡菜、酸菜和醉雞搏鬥起來。

 

這時服務生把蒸餃送上來了。我這群朋友雖然事先經過我的惡補,筷子仍然使的不太靈光。我猜這時候他們的手大概已經痠了,心裡可能也在想,中國人還真是會找自己的麻煩,筷子哪有刀叉俐落好用?殊不知這一切都是有緣由的。

 

古代西方人以遊牧型態生活,隨身帶刀,以便將肉燒熟割下來吃。後來爲了改進進餐的姿勢,才開始用叉子。嚴格來講,叉子才是食具,但若沒有刀子先切割,叉子也無用武之地,所以二者缺一不可。而中國人因為較早發展出完整的農耕生活型態,有充裕的時間進行烹飪的前製過程,吃的是經過切割的蔬菜跟肉,加上主食又是粒狀的米飯,所以需要夾取食物的工具,筷子就應運而生了。

 

好在經過了幾盤小菜跟一籠蒸餃的練習,他們似乎比較適應了,總算沒把接著上來的小籠湯包戳得皮破湯流。

 

「Have you noticed? Both Chinese people and Westerners make food from wheat, but we steam cook it while you bake it.」

 

「Yes, when we were in the South Gate Market, we saw steamed buns, bun rolls and Malar cakes. The dumplings here are also steamed. But we have bakeries in our countries. Why is it different? Is it because our staple foods are different?」

 

「You’re right, but that’s not the only reason. We also have different ways to deal with the problems of everyday life.」

 

我跟他們解釋,華人以米飯為主食,而且都是以蒸煮的方式來烹調。在生火不易的古代,人們發現了蒸氣不僅可以讓米飯熟透,更可同時料理其他食物,省時省力,所以發酵麵食也是用這樣的方式處理。西方人則因為不是以米飯為主食,始終沒有發展出「蒸」這種烹調方式,而習慣以烘烤的方式來處理食物,加上麵食經過烘烤後水分含量降低,可以久存,帶來不用時常生火的好處,這種方式就這樣延續下來了。

 

茶足飯飽之後,我又問大家:「Do you know why I ordered for you today?」

 

「Because we are visitors. You’re the host, you know this restaurant and their famous dishes better. But I guess because you raised this question, you must have other reasons.」

 

他們果然很了解我。其實他說的原因沒有錯,不過就算撇開這點不談,我們中國人上館子請客時還是習慣由主人點菜,不像西方人總是讓來客決定自己要吃什麼。追根究底,這還是跟中西方主食不同有關。華人從遠古時代就種植稻米為主食,而稻米種植則需要大量的水資源,在各地水資源分配不均等的情況下,要讓眾人能各取所需、免於紛爭,就需要選出一個大家信服的領導者來分配水資源。此後華人社會漸漸地演化為領袖制度,小自家庭宗族,大至國家社會,都以這樣的管理制度為準。這個現象延伸到飲食文化上,就成了請客時由主人點菜的習慣。不過一般說來,主人雖然要兼顧面子裡子,還是會優先考量主客的需求及喜好。

 

「Thanks, Ben. We not only ate some delicious food and saw the Taiwanese way of living, but also learned more about your eating culture. You’re such a professional tour guide!」我的朋友帶著心滿意足的笑容跟我道謝。

 

「I haven’t enjoyed myself in such a long time! It’s good to have someone that I can do this for, but there’s still plenty of places in Taipei worth visiting. I hope I can show you next time you’re here.」

 

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