At The Market

Greetings and Happy New Year! I've been in Taiwan for five weeks already. What! Already?! It's the start of a brand new year, and I figured I'd make an effort to start updating again before everyone forgets that I have this little blog. Come back, my friends! Come back! So I've got a backlog of items I want to share, so let's get started shall we?

I love markets. The Ballard Farmers Market in Seattle is a favorite of mine, as is the Salamanca Market in Hobart, Tasmania. I like supermarkets, too. Oh, and German Christmas markets. Anyway...Our local daytime open market consists of a few long alleyways lined with vendors selling plenty of food, produce and meats, as well as cheap clothing, kitchenware, and makeup among other things. It's crowded pretty much every day, especially when the unlicensed vendors are parked all the way down the center of the alley (below). Police stop by the market for regular checks, but by the time they arrive, the vendors have folded up and disappeared into their various hideaways in storefronts and nearby alleys, alerted by some signal unseen by my eyes. I've seen them fold up their umbrellas and wheel their carts away in a matter of seconds. Within half a minute, the alley is clear (above) for the cops to make their walk through. I once saw a vendor get caught. He didn't seem too miffed about it though, just disappointed. The cop gave him a citation and probably assessed a fine, that's all. As soon as he left, the vendor went back to selling his goods.

Guavas are in season (above, right). The picture below (left) is of various fish cakes, meatballs and tempura. The bottom right photo is a chicken vendor. That's our half chicken he's chopping. The black blocks in the front are blood cake. Typically it's made from pigs blood and sticky rice, but since this is a poultry vendor I'd guess these are likely made from duck blood. I can say I don't care for it because I've actually tried it. I do, however, like plain "blood tofu" (more on that later). Somewhere out of the frame were some fresh (live) chickens in cages. The food is certainly fresh.

vendor selling fresh clams, prawns and crab

During Winter Solstice people eat small dumpling balls made from glutinous rice flour called tangyuan, 湯圓 (literally soup ball). You can find them plain in traditional pink and white colors, or as larger balls filled with red bean paste, peanut, or sesame paste. In the winter it's common to eat them in a nice hot bowl of sweet soup. They're eaten year round (especially by me, oh yes), but it's the traditional food to eat during Winter Solstice. During the summer I like to eat them cold with grass jelly or shaved ice.

Here's a quick walk through the market at a somewhat not too crowded hour. The sound is not that great, but you get the idea. All the shouting is vendors trying to sell their wares.

In addition to the daytime open street market, there is an evening market a couple blocks away that starts around 4:00 in a covered marketplace. These evening markets are different from the famous night markets, which I will share in a later post. The evening market is entirely food; plenty of meat and produce, some cooked food and baked goods. We come here to buy sugar cane smoked chicken and leafy vegetables. Have a look at the variety! Can you name that many leafy greens? I haven't touched broccoli since I arrived on this island.

That's it for now! See you next posting!