Wow, that escalated quickly. Seriously. Last years level of participants and attendees was fairly low, almost quaint. There was open space with which to move without having to force another human being against an exhibitors booth and walk around without needing to worry about accidentally stepping on someones 6-legged crawling robotic creation. This year was very, very different.
As I pointed out in last week’s Top 5 Taiwanese Street Market Foods article, there are many more great eats to be consumed than just the five in my list. In fact, there’s a good chance that my top 5 doesn’t even contain one of another Taiwan residents top 5. So, here is some overflow designated as Honorable Mentions.
Last Saturday, as we often do, my family went to our closest Taiwan street market, the Raohe Street Night Market in Taipei. As we were sitting in the taxi for the short trip from our apartment in the northeast corner of the Songshan District to the market entrance, which neighbors the Songshan train station ten minutes away, I listened in on the excited words being passed between my kids and my wife. Their conversation consisted almost entirely of which snacks they were planning on eating at the market and which snacks they were planning on taking home to eat later.
And who can blame them? I was mulling over the exact same thing.
So a couple of weeks ago I stopped by the nearest Taipei City street market, Raohe Night Market, which sits next to the Sungshan Train Station, to pick up some dinner. I was also interested in visiting because a coworker claimed that on her last visit she had come across a Texan selling deep fried Oreos.
A Texan in Taipei with a stall at a local street market selling deep fried Oreos.
Well, I confirmed his existance and went home with dinner, some photos from the market, and confirmation that this guy does exist (along with deep fried banana pieces).
In Taiwan, strawberries are a winter fruit. Miaoli County, which sits south of Taipei, is the center of the strawberry universe. Every weekend dozens of tourist busses leave from Taipei Main Station filled with agro-tourists ready to strip the farms bare of anything with even the slightest red tinge followed by a stop off at the center of Miaoli City for some strawberry wine, strawberry ice cream, strawberries over shaved ice drowned in condensed milk, strawberry smoothies, strawberry candies, … you get the idea. There are even strawberry-flavored corn dogs and Taiwanese sausages.
What do you do if you are the village one train stop down from a very popular tourist-trail village? You come up with a hook to snag some of that tourist traffic. In this case, Houtong Village sits on the next stop past where anyone going to Pingxi to float some paper lanterns or Shifen to see the waterfall would exit.
The hook they came up with? Cats.
Ximen Market (a.k.a. Hsimen Market, Ximending, ???, Hsimenting, etc…) has been a shopping center in Taipei since before Taiwan was a country. It was first designated as a shopping district by the Japanese during their rule of the island prior to World War II. For Chinese or Japanese-language linguaphiles this explains the ding character, which doesnt make a ton of sense in a Chinese context because it is a direct transfer of the same character in Japanese (cho), which does make sense. There have been shopping or entertainment venues in Ximen for over a century including the Red House Theater, which has been standing since 1908 and still stands.