Thursday, July 25, 2013

Taiwan's night markets - a treat for the senses!

Learning a new language is hard work, as I found out soon after arriving in Taipei; it is one that requires determination, focused hard work, endless hours of studying, undaunted perseverance, attention to detail, and many other sacrifices. Thankfully though, all the hard work also justifies walking that extra mile for nourishment. If you are in Taiwan, the extra mile is made absolutely unnecessary by night markets that seem to exist in almost every corner - ready to feed the hungry till late into the night, or even early morning. But before I go on, let me back up a bit.

Night markets are common through out East and Southeast Asia. It's a market that opens late in the evening, stays open till very late, at times even till the early hours of morning. In Taiwan, these markets are found through out the island and form a major draw for tourists. Taipei alone boasts of at least two dozen of them. Each of these is known for something or the other - some, for inexpensive and fashionable clothes, some others for electronic goods. But what is impossible to miss in these markets - is the food.

Food, unquestionably, is at the center of every night market experience, and close to the heart of every night market visitor. What is on your plate is limited only by your imagination, and your knowledge of the Chinese language. This stall, for example, had me believe that I was about to devour frogs' eggs.
It was only after I had taken the first sip (I admit, with a lot of trepidation) was I told that the 'frogs' eggs' were actually made of tapioca. But that must not deter the adventurous. There is still stinky tofu to sample and chicken feet to eat!

For someone looking at safety in the known, spring onion wrapped in bacon - or grilled sausages with vegetables that you choose to get fried and pan-fried.

But the night market experience is not just about taste - it is a feast for the eyes, ears and nose, as you push through the sea of people, from students tourists for a taste of the unique experience. In the video below, I tried to capture some of the flavors at ShiLin night market, one of Taipei's largest.

What did I have for dinner, you ask? Excellent question. I chose to end my night with this!

Deep Pal, M.A. in International Affairs, 2014
Sigur Center 2013 Summer Language Fellow
National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan.

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