Taiwan: its delicous night market foods

Taiwan was Mok’s second stop in his recent East Asian tour and its night market foods are especially appealing to tourists. But the most impressive was the political ethusiams of Taiwaness people, who enjoy the freedom in a democratic system and constantly engaged in political discussions! For the previous article on the Korean tour, please click - http://096.ca/news/656124

Taiwan was the second stop on my recent Asian Tour. Like Korea, this is my first visit and so I was ready and anxious upon arrival. 

Taiwan can be best summarized and remembered by “Night Market foods”. The selections and varieties offered are beyond belief. More details on this later.

Taiwan was receiving a lot of Mainland tourists over the last 5 years and attractions and facilities were improved, driven by revenues revived from the business. With the changing of the ruling government in May, 2016 the tour groups were cut back for political reasons. The tourist industry adjusted by opening up to other Asian countries and North American tourists and this void is slowly filled. What it meant was that when we visited museums and other attractions, we do not have to content with mainland tourist crowds and some of their unruly behaviours.
1)美食 — 我们逛了三个夜市和一些(有日间市场)的小镇,当地路边摊供应的美食令人叹为观止。我们既品尝了异国风味也吃到很多传统食品,这些美味佳肴让我们大快朵颐。有一些更具特色的美食可能读者也是耳熟能详,比如臭豆腐、白凉瓜奶茶、椒盐-鸡、杏菇、鱿鱼,蚵仔煎、卤水内脏和牛肉面等。由于小吃种类太多,这里就不一一枚举了,但它们通常都是以鸡肉、牛肉、羊肉和海鲜为主。当然还少不了甜点和冰激凌。

1)Food – We visited 3 night markets and a few small towns (with day markets) where roadside stands served up incredible foods. We sampled both exotic and traditional foods, and they were all delicious. Some of the more interesting ones that may be familiar to the readers included – Stinky To-fu, white bitter melon milk-tea, spicy salt (chicken nuggets, mushroom, squid),  oyster pancakes, marinaded innards and beef noodles. The selections are just too numerous to mention here but they mostly centred around chicken, beef, lamb, and seafood. Of course there are desserts and ice-cream galore.
The night markets are semi-permanent stalls assembled each night, many of them extensions of restaurants onto the curbside and the streets where vehicles are prohibited and pedestrians get to walk an unimpeded 4-5 blocks of the designated streets within the night market boundaries well defined by markers. The cooking processes at the stalls became part of the attraction with aromas filling the air and finished foods were prominently displayed to enhance one's appetite. 
The secret to surviving this onslaught is to take turns and buy different items with your friends, consume small samples and share the rest as you walk in a group merrily down the streets and space your stomach capacity. You will always want to come back the next night because you missed out on something on the previous visit (even from a different night market).
While we got to dine on local Taiwan cuisine every lunch and dinner, we also decided to pay extra to sample the best Xiaolongbao in Taiwan and possibly the whole world. At Din Tai Fung Restaurant under the Taipei 101 Tower building, the quest ended. The dumplings were made with the thinnest pastry (skin) and the juiciest fluids were flowing inside with the tender minced pork fillings. Compared to their franchises in Markham, Seattle, Hong Kong and other restaurants, this place holds the championship. It was all worthwhile to take on this extra eating excursion.
2)政治 — 在与台湾人进行交谈时,我注意到他们经常参与政治讨论!当地人通常会加入蓝营(国民党)或绿营(民进党)这两大主要执政党之一,而不同政治派别的家庭成员常常会进行激烈的政治辩论。大多数台湾人都渴望维持现状,即不统一、不独立、不打仗。他们感觉大陆的军事力量对他们构成威胁,他们也目睹了“一国两制”下的香港所发生的一切。为台湾特别设置的允许其在统一后保留自己军队的额外条款并不能说服台湾人接受统一。而台湾政府在外交界和国际组织中陷入孤立的事实只会进一步增强台湾人民,尤其是年轻一代抵制任何和解的决心。

2)Politics – In talking to Taiwan people, I observed that they are constantly engaged in political discussions! People are affiliated to one of the two major governing parties – the Blue Camp (Kuomintang) or the Green Camp (Democratic Progressive Party) and they conduct aggressive political debates within the household amongst members of different political stripes. Most of them desire the status quo - no unification, no independence, and no war. They feel threatened by the Mainland with military forces and they observe what happened in Hong Kong under the “One-country, two systems”. The special and extra provisions offered to Taiwan under unification with the retention of its own military cannot convince the people to accept it. The isolation of the government in the diplomatic world and global organizations only strengthen the resolve of the Taiwan people to resist any reconciliation, especially with the younger generation.

We went to many places and purchased many health products including Green Tea Power and pills made out of Terrapin and Ganoderma. It was a very pleasant and enjoyable trip since we were able to convince the Cantonese speaking guide to let us sleep in for an extra hour every morning!

Next stop – China!

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