It is so hard to walk anywhere in Taipei without thinking about food and wanting to put something to your lips.
The days when I would forget to eat seem so long ago. Now I wander the streets, from school to home, to dance class, to the movies, etc., and I am always caught behind a slow-moving crush of pedestrians on the narrow sidewalks, so soon I am sauntering and have time to admire the glistening pineapple buns and green tea cakes in shop windows. Bakeries are on every block and as I pass the door, I am bathed simultaneously in the aroma and the breeze from the air-conditioning.
When I leave my apartment, I step into the Shida night market where bells chime from stalls selling doughnuts and you can hear the sizzle of steak and eggs on a hot plate and pretty girls invite you to have a cup of cold tea with little kumquat halves floating in it. Everyone around you is skewering battered chicken or fish balls out of a paper bag or holding a crepe like it is a fan.
To the subway, along Shida Road, I pass a man ladling soup from behind a restaurant with a steel counter facing the sidewalk and I hold my breath to avoid smelling the pungent, cloying herb that reminds me of cinnamon. A few minutes further, there's a dessert place (similar to Ice Monster) displaying photos of my favourite cold treat, crushed ice saturated in condensed milk and covered with fresh fruit and sherbet.
Treats (pictured) at Ice Monster on Yong Kang Street. (Mangos are out of season in the winter so the Jumbo Mango Dessert is no longer available.)
I usually linger around Yong Fung Shung, below, tempted by their fresh mantou or steaming buns because when you bite into the smooth, white bread, nothing has ever been softer or warmer or more fulfilling and because eating one feels like you're injesting pureness and perfection.
The restaurants here make food so accessible. Sushi Express brings the food to you on a conveyor belt with the convenient price of a $1 per plate. Most restaurants have set meals and pictures or plastic models of the dish in the window.
Every day, I am surfeited. I am now also afraid to go for a walk.
Spicy beef on noodles at a mall food court.
Fried chicken at Shilin Night Market
The fabulous jerky at the Singapore-based Bee Cheng Hiang chain
The menu at the World Soybean Milk Magnate with my English annotations.