Carbo-loading in Taipei
The ubiquity of 7-Elevens and other convenience stores in Taipei is well-documented. I have, however, never seen mention of the much more wonderful proliferation of neighborhood bakeries in this city of many, many (many, many, many) snack joints. Locals hop in and out of their corner bakery much the same way Parisians do, but there is usually little or no queue for your carb bomb of choice. My ritual: leave the umbrella (because, of course, it's raining) outside the store, pick up a tray and tongs just inside the door, and proceed to hem-and-haw through the racks of magazine-quality pastries (much to the irritation of shoppers behind me, I'm sure). But, seriously, how does one choose among the raisin danish (my go-to), weapons-grade garlic toast, various cheese and ham-stuffed beauties, rolls filled with pork sung (pork that's been fried so many times it crumbles - this is a Trust-Me item), all the chocolate this-and-that's, cranberry and walnuts loaves, and whatever other evil treat they decided to serve up that day?!! And this is not even touching on the patisserie side, with angelic fruit tarts, architectural chocolate mousse, mini-cheesecakes and other made-to-order pieces of edible art!! The best aspect of these very common Taiwanese establishments is that they are not DESTINATIONS, in the sense that whatever bakery you run into at the nearest intersection to your hotel/apartment is more than likely to be very, very good. Just don't go to Starbucks. Seriously.