The bounty of Taiwan’s night markets

Strolling through Fengchia on my third day in Taiwan!You may have noticed that recent posts are few and far between; I am currently working in (and cooking my way through!) Taiwan, where I’ve had the opportunity to tour and shop at several famous night markets including Taichung’s Fengchia (逢甲夜市), Taipei’s Shilin (士林夜市), and Kaohsiung’s Ruifeng (瑞豐夜市).

One of the great pleasures of living in Taiwan is visiting the night markets, which are unlike any other (day) markets I’ve visited in Europe or Asia. Opening in the late afternoon, the action (and crowds) doesn’t really pick up until well after nightfall, where a cacophony of hawkers wearing portable microphones try to out-shout/outhawk the competition and your nose is assaulted by a barrage of competing aromas wafting down the alleys (stinky tofu is perhaps the most overpowering, visceral, and instantly recognizable). You’ll find any edible prepared just about any way you can imagine: duck and pig’s blood cakes, deep-fried everything on a stick, stinky tofu prepared a myriad of ways, glistening piles of fresh fruits destined for tables or smoothies, takoyaki, sushi, and other Japanese imports, to German-style pig knuckles. You can even fish for live shrimp (a popular night market sport) or have a quick sit down dinner at a greasy spoon.

Besides the food, night markets are (in)famous for cheap gadgets and clothing. There are also sections devoted to carnival games like ring toss, balloon popping, card games, and other pursuits, lending the whole thing an air not unlike an American state fair.

Here are some of my favorite scenes from various night markets I’ve visited so far:

Grilled squid at Shilin
Grilled squid at Shilin
Red and regular guava at Shilin
Red and regular guava at Shilin
Making fried sweet potato balls at Fengchia
Making fried sweet potato balls at Fengchia
The entrance to Fengchia
The entrance to Fengchia
Aiyu jelly
Aiyu jelly
Snails
Steamed dumplings and buns
Stinky tofu
Stinky tofu
DSC_0768
Various mushrooms and veggies waiting to be turned into tempura

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