「服務他人是你住地球應該付出的租金。」– 穆罕默德‧阿里 (拳擊手)
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." -- Muhammad Ali, Boxer


Every country places food at the centre of its culture. We both celebrate and commiserate with it, build relationships with it, and use it for fuel. It is such a central part of our lives that it often appears on television or in magazines and even makes it into movies as a major theme, both in the West and in Asia. Through these media outlets, we can see the love of food and dining out. Although there are similarities between the Orient's and Occident's dining experiences, there are also differences.

When I first arrived in Taiwan, I noticed that there are no set courses in Taiwanese traditional cooking. Food arrives as it is made and served for all to share. In the West, there is a set flow to the meal, from starters then onto the main meal and finishing with dessert. Food is often for an individual and it may be beautifully arranged, resembling a piece of artwork. More recently, Taiwanese restaurants, especially if they serve Western food, follow this practice. In the West, soft drinks will always arrive before the starters, whereas in Taiwan, they can often arrive after the meal, unless specified earlier.
第一次來台灣時,我發現台灣傳統料理沒有「套餐」的概念。食物準備好就端上桌讓大家分享。 在西方,從開胃菜、主餐到甜點有一定的先後順序。一份餐點設計給一人享用,食物重視擺盤, 常被視為藝術品。現今台灣的西式餐廳也遵照這個原則。在西方文化裡,不含酒精的飲料會在開 胃菜前上;不過在台灣要是沒有事先提醒,飲料幾乎都是餐後上。 

People can take anywhere from one to three hours on their meals in the West, especially in higher-end restaurants. You are probably wondering how can you spend that amount of time eating. People use this environment to converse and catch up with each other. Coffees are often ordered after the meal, almost creating another course and helping conversation flow. Some restaurants are savvy to the demand of a slow dining experience and offer a full course meal. This expands upon the typical three courses and can be anything from four courses to a dining extravaganza of twelve courses. However, most restaurants tend to offer less than twelve courses for a full-course meal.
西方飲食文化,尤其高檔餐廳,人們的用餐時間大約是一至三小時。你可能會 疑惑一頓飯怎麼可以吃那麼久。大家用這個時間敘舊、更新彼此近況,並在餐 後加點一杯咖啡,讓對話更順暢進行下去。有些餐廳很了解「慢食」的需求, 也就供應更完整的套餐。原先的三道主菜延伸至四道甚至是更鋪張的十二道 菜。然而,大多數餐廳的「完整套餐」不太會十二道菜餚都全部到齊。

You may be thinking that in traditional Chinese dining you can have ten dish meals, such as at a 快炒 or a wedding. There is a difference though to the flow of the meal. The dishes at a 快炒 tend to come out at the same time and are to be shared with everyone around the table. At weddings, although the dishes come out at different times, they tend to overlap the courses. In the West, each course is only served after the preceding one is finished. Food is designed to be eaten by an individual, with each course arriving for every diner at the same time. As a result, you can have a twelve-course meal for as few as two people, whereas the Chinese ideal would be to have around ten people to share the food. 
中式外食,像是快炒或是婚禮辦桌,幾乎可以吃到十道菜。不過兩種的上菜流程也有差異,吃快炒的時 候每道菜在差不多時間上桌,大家分享共食;而婚禮辦桌,雖然不會同時上完所有菜,但幾乎是不停歇 地一道接一道上桌。西方文化則是一道菜享用完之後才上下一道。每道餐點都是設計給個人享用,每道 菜會在相同時間供應給每個用餐的人。吃一頓飯你可能會吃到十二道餐點,但在中式料理的觀念裡是大 家共享所有菜。 

Food Truck:庶民銅板美食
As expected from a twelve-course meal, there is a large price tag and people only order this for a major celebration. Even so, if you have travelled to the West, you may have noticed that dining out seems to be considerably more expensive than in Taiwan. When you are looking for a quick bite to eat, it feels that you might be limited to sandwiches or McDonald's. People do not dine out as much in the West as they do in Taiwan. There is an expectation that you can cook cheaper meals at home. Even if you do not cook, supermarkets cater for this with packaged meals. These are similar to the foods that you can buy at any convenience store in Taiwan. In contrast, there are also a lot of long-standing mom-and-pop eateries in Taiwan. As the name suggests, these are small independent establishments that are usually run by one family. They tend to offer simple home-cooked food for a very reasonable price.
點滿十二道菜價格偏高,一般都是聚餐慶祝時才會點。如果你去西方旅遊,應該不難發現在國外 吃外食的價格比台灣貴上很多。如果你只是想快速解決一餐,選擇就只能受限於三明治或是麥當 勞。西方人比起台灣人很少出外用餐,因為在家煮可以省下不少錢。就算你不會煮飯,超市也有 提供盒餐。就像是在台灣便利商店可以買到的加熱食物。台灣還有很多自家經營的餐館,從餐廳 名字就能看出來這是某家人的家族事業。你可以用合理價格吃到家常料理。
For mid-range dining in the West, you can visit food trucks and gastropubs. Both offer high quality that is cheaper than dining at a restaurant. Food trucks offset their costs by refitting a truck with a kitchen and serving a limited menu out of a window. This means that you do not have to pay for waiting staff or other overheads associated with a restaurant. Gastropubs are the next step up from a food truck. They also offer great quality food but tend to be cheaper and less formal than a high-end restaurant. Often, they are located in a well-established pub, which means that you can also get decent wines and beers to accompany your meal. In Taiwan, there has been a recent spate of cafes that have opened over the last few years, serving mid-priced food and great coffees or teas. Some even have craft beers on offer too, creating Taiwan's version of the gastropub.
要找西方中價位外食的話,可以參考行動餐車或餐酒館。相較於高檔餐廳,他們多提供物美價廉 的餐點。餐車用卡車廚房以抵銷成本,提供簡易菜單,單獨窗口服務。這也表示你不需要付錢等 人來服務你或負擔餐廳的經常性開支。餐車的進化則是餐酒館,座落在酒吧的鬧區中,也就是說 除了用餐你也可以品嘗到很棒的葡萄酒或啤酒。這幾年台灣開了大量的咖啡廳,提供中價位的餐 點和不錯的咖啡和茶。有些甚至也會賣酒,這有點像是台灣獨有的餐酒館。 

However, although offering similar quality in food and drink, the ambience can feel very different. In the West, the décor often includes carpets and curtains, which lead to a quieter eating environment as the soft furnishings help to absorb the sound. In Taiwan, the furniture and flooring are usually harder, which creates a noisier atmosphere. The ambience is also affected by children. In the West, there are family-friendly restaurants, but there are also many establishments that cater for adults only, especially higher-end ones. In Taiwan, from the cheapest eats to the finest dining venues, children are welcome.
即使提供相似的餐點品質,用餐環境還是非常不同。在西方,餐廳的裝飾包含地毯、窗簾,軟材 質的傢俱幫助吸收聲音,製造安靜的用餐環境。在台灣,傢俱和地板的材質幾乎都比較硬,整個 環境相對較吵雜。影響餐廳氛圍的另個因素是小孩子。在西方國家,有歡迎家族聚餐的餐廳,但 也有一些餐廳只開放給大人,特別是高檔餐廳。在台灣,幾乎全部餐廳都很歡迎小孩子。
Although there are differences between the dining cultures of the East and West, the ideas tend to overlap and food brings people together. I strongly suggest that the next time you visit a Western country, leave the 泡麵 at home and try the local food. You may need to pay more, especially if you have alcohol with your meal, but the experience will be worth it!
雖然東西方存在著飲食文化的差別,但都是想透過食物聯繫人與人之間的感情。我強烈建議下次 去西方國家玩的時候,把泡麵留在家裡,嘗試當地的食物。雖然會花更多伙食費,特別是含酒的 大餐,但絕對值得! 


本文摘錄自一張圖搞懂 夜市裡的英文課 2019年06月號