Friday, January 24, 2014

DiHua Street for Chinese New Year!

This past Saturday I headed to buy fabric from the fabric district, which happens to be located night next to 迪化街/DiHua Street, which always gets very crowded for Chinese New Year! I did notice that this year there were fewer traditional stands and quite a few more "modern" things. I snapped some photos to share:

Grilled Stinky Tofu:
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This is one of the most famous Taiwanese foods. I like the grilled version the most, but the the fried version is most commonly seen because it is the fastest and the fragrance is less obvious. There is also the original type, which is boiled, but the flavor is most pungent and a lot of foreigners are afraid of the taste. If you ever get the chance, I definitely suggest you give it a try at a few different places, because each stand and stall makes them a bit differently!

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Handmade nougat is another popular Taiwanese food and is very popular for gifting at Chinese New Year! There are SO many flavors and you can sample them all, too ;)

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Erm, just random

Food stall:
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Balloon Octopus:
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This was for a stall selling dried seafood goods. This is also very popular!

Pizza on a truck:
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This guy had a whole stone oven on the back of his truck. Food trucks are immensely popular in Taiwan, but I've not seen one with a whole stone oven installed before! It seemed pretty fun :)

Lucky lottery:
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Gambling and lucky packets are a must-have for Chinese New Year! In America, we used to get together with other Taiwanese families and the parents would gamble real money playing Mahjong while we kids would gamble with coins playing dice games.

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It really wasn't very good to be honest...

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We actually got to the entrance after going through the whole street since we came from the fabric building.

Lucky words, spring couplets
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Another must-have! You can get couplets for the door frame or single square words that you can hang. It is very common to get "spring" and "prosperity" and hang them upside-down because it sounds like the word for "arriving" and is lucky!

Candies, dried seafood, imported candy:
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These are also very common

Fish catching:
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A Japanese game of catching fish

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More modern games!

Goose Eggs:
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I bought one and split it with my friends. The ratio of yolk to white is much higher than in a chicken egg! These eggs were baked and the lady peeled and cut them for us. Very yummy!

ZhangYuan Gao
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This is made by grinding up uncooked rice and then moistening it with water to make it mildly sticky. Then it is layered in the wooden mold with flavor powder (either peanut or sesame) and the lid is put on. The mold is placed on a metal pole which channels steam of 300 degrees to rapidly cook the whole bundle. It is a bit like a rice ball, but much finer because the grains of rice were all smashed beforehand and takes only seconds to cook!

An attempt at Western-Eastern fusion resulted in a truly baffling Hawaiian hula dance performance complete with Chinese paper (I think it was the paper money we burn) at the back of the skirts:
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I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this .___.
Sometimes Taiwan's attempts is incorporating other cultures goes not quite right... such as pole dancers at temple offerings (supposedly to attract good spirits) or the Taiwanese take on belly dance, which sort of lost the sensual aspect and simply turned it into a sexy, clubbing type of deal without enough focus on the dace as a whole, based on what I've seen professional teachers teaching and presenting on TV. Still, I think cultural integration is great!

Does your country have any "fusion" of traditional and modern things? Maybe it is because I grew up in America so I'm used to fusions of cultures and mish-mash of everything! I'd love to hear about other cultures' take on this too!