the aisles of vons, ralphs, whole foods and the like are well-groomed and systematically organized. fluorescent lighting bounces off the polished floors, vegetables receive a refreshing spritz every so often, and meats are wrapped or cased to reach america’s high sanitary standard. hell, many markets now provide antibacterial gel or wipes for their mysophobic patrons. now, imagine the exact opposite and you’re likely to picture something more similar to a traditional market in taiwan. it’s not to say the market is disgusting or uncivilized – just very, very different. i thoroughly enjoyed visiting the market on my visit to my home country last month.
taiwan’s markets are a maze of exotic fruits and on-the-scene slaughtered meats. innards and animal parts you’d never imagine were edible hang everywhere and if you’re not cautious, a large intestine or cow tongue will probably grace your face. it’s festively loud, with mopeds honking their way through the stands and everyone haggling for the best price. many vendors are old. they wake up before the sun and haul their harvest to the market each day. it’s quite amusing and surely a humbling experience.