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Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Danshui: Taipei's Coney Island - Page 2

Written by Erin Kuschner
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In the lively fishing village of Danshui (more commonly known as Tamsui to the locals) a lengthy boardwalk summons its strolling visitors to slow down a notch; to look left at Taiwan’s Danshui River, and right at the flashing arcade games lined up in blinking rows.  For the residents of Taipei a mere 40 minute ride on the metro can provide an escape from a city of over 2.5 million.  A bike path serves as a more scenic route, and was in fact the mode of transportation I chose to make my way from Taiwan’s capital to Danshui.


Some of the fishing stands serve up their produce in ready-to-eat snacks by frying seafood plucked straight from the net and selling it on a stick.  Chefs and busboys from across the boardwalk haggle with the fishermen before running back to their kitchens, hands carrying heavy bags that will soon be emptied over greasy woks and fed to hungry customers.  Watching the intricate system of life along the boardwalk, it is hard not to notice the river’s leading role in sustaining not only business, but also the cohesive relationships of Danshui.


Danshui: Taipei's Coney Island, travel Taiwan, marketBy taking a side street away from the river, I left the boardwalk and found myself in a tangle of small stores and suddenly, a fruit market.  A woman behind a long table of fruit gestured frantically to an array of colors: orange kumquats, yellow star fruit, white melons, and deep green gourd-like objects that looked edible…but I politely declined.


The scene is not as commercial as the one I witnessed by the river, and the megaphones have been conspicuously left behind.  However, It is far from calm.  Vendors pushing their wares compete with their neighbors for customers by yelling out prices and products. I saw small Buddha statues, wooden bracelets, and shells from the river’s beach in deep bins. There is classic street food, of course, which thickens the air with its greasy remnants.


One of Danshui’s most popular culinary items is fish balls – spheres of fish paste stuffed with meat and curry.  While I decided to pass on these odorous little snacks, I thoroughly enjoyed candied sweet potatoes picked out of a Styrofoam cup.  The wedges come in shades of purple, orange, and yellow; and remind me of the sugar-coated apples from my trick-or-treating days.


My favorite snack was a pyramid of sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves.  Consumed most often during Chinese New Year; the sticky rice can either be a sweet, dessert-like treat, or a salty snack infused with meat.  The kind I tried was closer towards the latter, filled with greasy pork and piping hot.  Another adventurous delicacy is “squid on a stick”, the squid’s wild tentacles may not look the most appetizing but I tried a few fried in a light batter and found them to be a perfect salty snack, rich in butter and fresh in taste.

(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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