Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food Markets, Taiwanese Style!

 A couple of weekends ago a friend of ours met us out early on a Sunday morning in the rain to walk us through a food market in Taipei. I'm pretty sure the trip was fueled by my recent posts of French and Spanish Food Markets that she'd seen. She wanted to show us what Taiwan markets had to offer.

A rainy day at the market
Meeting us on the corner, she warned us that it wouldn't be anything like the European markets she saw on my blog - this quickly proved to be true.

As soon as we walked into the market we found this gentleman. At first glance there's not much to see - a bunch of bottled water. But oh no! This is actually home-brewed rice wine. Easy to sneak into the boring afternoon meeting or class. I know a few people from college that would have been regular customers.

Several stands sold fresh seafood. And I'm talking fresh. One in the middle of the road had a bucket of large shrimps that were literally jumping out and onto the ground. That is until they had their heads ripped off by the proprietess.

A few more oddities you would definitely have a hard time finding in Europe - a stand of all tofu products, blocks of taro cake bigger than your head, and brains on hooks.
All vegetarian products - mainly made from tofu
Slabs of taro cake
There's nothing like brain on a stick to make a person feel primeval
And since I've gotten you all disturbed with that last picture I might as well go into the most disturbing part of all - the chicken slaughter. I eat a lot of chicken. I know where it comes from. I'm not an animal rights activisit or anything, but this seems a little extreme and cruel to the chickens.

It goes like this - there is a big cage with a bunch of live chickens stuffed inside, squawking and stepping on one another (sorry about the picture quality - there was a lot of bustle around the stand and hard to get a steady picture).
Above the cage you may notice a yellow tray on which several chicken organs rest. The smell of blood and sounds of murder surround these chickens - they know what's in store for them. The smack of the butcher block above brings them one step closer to the bloody and horrible death that's already come to their friends and neighbors. There is no way to escape your fate buddy.

On a happier note, there was a lot of really beautiful produce - fruits I'd never seen before, piles of ridiculously cheap herbs (an entire basket of basil for about 30 cents US), and long poles of sugar cane and taro, dumplings and cakes. Stunning variety.

Dumplings and shu-mai
Hibiscus flowers
Our friend was right - the market was nothing like the ones I experienced in Europe. But this is a good thing! So much variety in what people eat around the world is exciting and inspiring. There's so much out there to try - it's a big world with lots of great food!

1 comment:

Hersheyswt said...

I like the market - poor chickens! All I really care about though is getting all the Shumai I can possibly eat and definitely passing on the brains.