Written by Elissa DeTellis, (George Washington University), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Fall 2022
Since I came to Taiwan in May, I have made it a goal of mine to go to my neighborhood market as much as possible. A fun benefit of this is that I actually recognize this vendor and his corner stall. In this picture he is preparing some bamboo shoots and on another occasion I watched him cut up a humongous winter melon 冬瓜.
It has been such a privilege to live just a five minute walk from such a huge market. I wish that where I lived in the US also had this kind of market so accessible to me.
While it is enjoyable just going for a stroll and looking at the beautiful produce and interesting wares, the market is not the place to be careless. There are throngs of people, bicycles, and scooters rushing past making it important to stay vigilant while walking on the cramped roads and allies.
My roommate picking out a mango on a recent trip to the market. We also bought pomelos 柚子 to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival.
Beautifully colored, whole fish are sold at several stands. Along with them, squid and a variety of shellfish can also all be easily found.
Like most street vendors, this woman wrapping dumplings works incredibly fast and makes it look effortless. After watching her for a bit it seemed like she could make almost a dozen a minute.
Seeing meat hanging outside like this was definitely one of the biggest shocks I experienced in coming to Taiwanese markets. It made me want to learn more about the different cuts of meat, because while I knew I didn’t have the vocabulary to talk specifics in Chinese it also made me realize that I didn’t have much experience talking to butchers in general.
Besides fresh produce and meat, there are also stores selling dried goods, fresh noodles, and all kinds of other various food products. The market, aided by convenience stores which supply me with a steady reserve of snacks and ice cream, makes trips to the grocery store rare.
The vendors are usually very friendly and happy to talk. I talked to one man for a bit and he explained some of the differences between the different soy milks that he makes. He was happy I was taking an interest in his product and I enjoyed getting to use my Chinese with him.
While a large portion of the produce at the market is from Taiwan, of course there are fruits that don’t grow in Taiwan like apples and cherries that are imported from other countries. Other fruits, like the kiwi, which is native to Taiwan, is still regularly imported from New Zealand which produces more.