On Sunday night, I went to my first night market! My school director FuHo, along with her husband Victor, and three children, Jessica, Love, and Casper, piled into the car with me, my roommate Abigail, and friend Alice. I guess they’d read my previous blogs because they commented on how they were trying to obey the seatbelt laws now. Ha! Just call me Safety-Patrol Sam.
It was about 8pm when we arrived at the Shilin Night Market. For me, a Sunday night at 8pm usually means pajamas and movie. But here in Taipei, the night market is just gearing up. In fact, Alice told me that it doesn’t get busy until about 11pm. Uhhhh, that’s past my bedtime.
The aisles/allies of the market are narrow already, but add shops, food carts, tables stacked with cheap clothes, hawkers, and of course crowds of shoppers, and you’ve got a personal-space junky’s worst nightmare. I’ve gotten better about allowing people into my bubble, but I’m glad we were there during the “off” hours.
|Shilin Night Market|
Meandering past the shops and stands, my companions had tons of suggestions for what I should try. The first delicious item was fried squid. I didn’t want to mention that I’d had calamari many many times before.... the breading and spices were perfect, so I kept my past eating experiences to myself and kept ‘sampling’ the dish. Next, we headed over the to tea stand. Alice and I had talked before about bubble tea. I guess bubble tea has a couple of code names. It’s also called BoBa tea, and Alice refers to it as pearl milk tea. Anyways, I discovered that it’s all the same, and it’s all delish! Abi and Alice suggested I ask for half sugar, which, for future reference, is definitely the way to go. Also, I had no idea what the “pearls” were made of. It’s tapioca! Barf! The thought of tapioca pudding makes me want to vomit, but these chewy little gems are mouthwatering. I’m officially addicted to BoBa now; I think I’ll have one every day.
I was in 7th heaven over my tea, so I didn’t even freak out when Alice warned me to watch out for pickpockets trying to steal stuff out of my purse. Well, if you want to steal from me, have fun with my 5-year-old camera and 500NT. I’m a teacher, for pete’s sake.
More street food! FuHo recommended the Taiwan baked potato. I’m not sure if it is officially the “Taiwan Baked Potato” but I guess it’s a favorite of many night market patrons. I waited in a long line at the stand, which I took as a good sign, since the stand directly next to us was selling the same thing and had NO customers.
|Waiting / Towering|
The man who made my potato was pretty stoked to practice his English with me, or maybe just to show off his mad skills. So, instead of simply filling my order (a “chicken club” potato), he proceeded to name and add EVERY topping to my potato. Check this thing out -- a potato topped with pineapple, corn, hard-boiled eggs, tuna salad, ham, smoked chicken, bacon, broccoli, cheese, and spices. Holy cannoli. Super gross? Wrong-o, Mary Lou. This concoction was haochi!! Oh, and all this for only 60NT ($2 US). Take that, Wisconsin State Fair potato!
|You can't tell, but it's a potato....|