In Taiwan, you have the option of going to a grocery store similar to the ones in America or Europe (Carrfour, Kroger, Wholefoods, Harris Teeter, Piggly Wiggly...etc), but usually, stuff in the city markets are fresher and cheaper. Every city, town, village, small-conglomeration-of-people has such a market, selling everything from vegetables to meat to cheap underwear (US $1 per pair). The floors are usually dirty wet concrete, from the ice and random juices seeping from the various forms of meat sold, and there's a distinct old food smell that permeates the air. To the westerner, it might be appalling, but the truth of the matter is, without these markets, most of the photos on this blog would not exist. Here's a brief tour of the one in Taitung City.
I put the shocker first because I really love this picture. It reminds me of a Chardin still life, elegant but a little gruesome. Yes, children, this is what a plucked and beheaded chicken looks like. It looks like it lost something underneath the platform and is straining its neck to search for its lost possession. Beautiful.
This is the inside of the market, basically movable stands set up underneath the shelter of a large warehouse. It's a maze inside, and you just move around blindly until you find some light peering in from the outside. Of course, anybody who goes to this market can probably navigate the labyrinth of raw foods with both eyes covered.
Bamboo shoots are in season. The little black dots on them are flies. Pretty gross (the flies, not the bamboo)
The old man who sells the bamboo shoots peels them for you on the spot. The outside of the root is really tough and purple. If purchasing bamboo shoots, remember to pick the white, tender-looking ones.
Veggie-palooza! I like Taiwan because Chinese people have so much liberty in the ingredients they use. In America, it's broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and cabbage. If you're adventurous, you might try asparagus. In Taiwan, there are always new vegetables appearing that I've never seen before, despite being an expert eater with a large repertoire.
White eggs...that appear to be brown because they probably just left the chicken that morning.
Feeshy fish. There usually would be a lot more on the table but we went to the market sort of late, at 11am. The market is most lively between the hours of 6am and 8am.
I can just hear them:
Fish #1 - "hey! your fat gut is invading my personal space!"
Fish #2 - "why don't you tell those squid behind me to move their slimey tentacles!"
As promised, mango as big as my hand. There's no place like Taiwan. (except for other places that produce juicy juicy mangos) (5 points to anybody who gets that last movie reference)