Night Markets in Taipei, Taiwan
An hour after landing in Taipei, I was hungry. I asked the man at the front desk of my hotel where I might find the nearest night market. "Go left at the first McDonald's," said the man at the desk, without a hint of irony, "Then go to the next McDonald's, and take a right." No kidding. Unfamiliar with night market food ways, I picked a stand that looked like it served some good stuff, watched a local go through the ordering routine, and then followed his lead, monkey see-monkey do: I took a small plastic basket and filled it with skewers. I selected skewers of smoky bacon-wrapped scallions/enoki mushrooms; green pepper and tofu. I handed the basket to the young lady, then watched as she dipped skewers in sauce and gently grilled each one. When the food was cooked, she snipped it into smaller pieces. No way was I going to haul this chow back to my hotel room. I perched on an empty store platform and street-grunted it, mindful of careening motorbikes and taxies. Each skewer was flavored with a different sauce, lightly grilled, very fresh tasting with lots of dimension offered by the smoky bacon. It was really good, made more so by the ambiance. Total cost: $100 NT (about three bucks American). Night markets, like those in Taiwan, are an excellent way to eat fresh, reasonably priced food that seems reflective of local culinary traditions.