Monthly Archives: January 2014

GFD: Lei Lei Brunch Café, Hsinchu.


Today, Hsinchu is warm and sunny, and I have feelings which amount to optimism on the one hand and loss on the other. This afternoon I will leave Hsinchu for the last time, maybe never to return, but the future is bright, bright like a nuclear explosion.

Yesterday I tried to flog the scooter I bought only to discover that I never legally perchased it in the first place. So I’ve been driving around illegally for 5 months and now I can’t technically sell it. Instead, today I will sell it to a guy for a biscuit of what I paid. But ‘ey, this departure process has cost some money. What’s an extra  $NT5,000? I also virtually or literally gave away a rice cooker, hot plate, fan, frying pan, plants, and more as the escape plan took hold.

I’m now here with the wonderful Lisa Yang for a final breakfast. She probably taught me more Chinese than anyone and was more than patient with all my bad student ways. She’s also helping me with complicated and boring tax things, more of which would be do mundane to recount. We found this place on a post-tax hungry scooter run, and only have an hour before I have to meet the scooter guy. We get breakfasts. Mine is, fittingly, an ‘English breakfast’. It’s soup, bacon, salad, bread, egg and, most gratifyingly, scones. While the breakfast was anything but English (no grease) the scones were through and though die hard Brit.

How to pronounce scone? The o_e suggests a long o to rhyme with bone, but in my family we say ‘scon’. I think that whatever pronunciation you pick, you think the other way is for the poshos. I give Lisa some scone and she agreed with me about it’s tasty goodness. Creamy, jammy happiness. Yes, if nothing else made me want to go home, the scones do.

Turns out, I soon realise, the café owner spent a long time in Sheffield. Evidently the inspiration for the café came from this trip, and I commended him on his scones. How do they say scone in Sheffield, I ask myself. I didn’t ask the owner: the notion of regional accents seems to confuse the Taiwanese and their belief in a monolithic American accent reflected in their almost holy KK phonetics system.

Goodbye Hsinchu, your wind, and the friends I made. Goodbye to Yaxiang Fan, the duck place I frequented more and more as I got bored of cooking. Goodbye, the cool-dude street dancers under the roundabout. Goodbye to the scooters…oh I’ll see you in Taipei! For I leave for there in 3 hours.

by Adam


Jam Reunited

While I, Adam, have been in Taiwan for six months or so, Chris has been conducting numerous jam tasks on his lonesome. He’s become deft at sterilising those jars, and that’s both a literal and metaphorical truth. Jammatology appeared in a video by leg-uppers Somewhere_to, and had stalls at a couple of London markets. Seasons change, and with that so do seasonal ingredients and jams. In roads were made with Milk Bar cafe in Soho offering to stock our jam, something which is still being worked out.

In Taiwan, we exhibited our Banalograms, complete with (occasionally nonsensical) Chinese translations. I made Jammohitos and sold cards to the occasionally confused Taiwanese shoppers, who kept asking me for the real meanings behind the sayings. Well, what can I say, if you have faith in the moose of absolution perhaps you should indulge in your sins without delay; or perhaps the moose’s antlers are likely to get caught in the speeding car’s bumpers, causing a real mess and an awkward conversation with the insurance company. I guess it cuts to the heart of all theological debate… um. 

2013 was an important time for jam, whose very existence seemed under threat when a European law was perhaps going to be introduced to, deep breath, change jam as we know it. The fact that the law aimed to change the minimum content of sugar in jam, and hence make no difference whatsoever to the jam we consume, was ignored as the law became a straw jam man to point sticky fingers at the EU. We ‘published’ our first, now legendary, edition of the Daily Jam with which readers could mop up the hysteria.

Now, it appears that the markets are going to become more regular. With that comes an inkling of hope for our jam and a call for my return, which I have promptly decided to do. In 2014, both of us will be in London, selling jam wherever we can with the aim of actually opening a jam cafe. We hope to see you there!