This picture represents one solid component of what heaven will be like (you’ll notice that there is no beer tap present, which is why this is only a partial view of The Future State). It is from the Nanmen market (my spelling) near the Chiang Kai-sheck Memorial Hall in central Taipei. You can see the several different kinds of sausages hanging in front, but what’s partly hidden are the legs of ham dangling in the back.
There are different ways to cure and cut these hams, and each is astonishingly delicious. I tasted small samples and wanted to buy out the whole market. If I could find a way to sneak some pig past customs, I would, too.
The company that makes the hams has a website (in Chinese) here. See especially this page that describes the many products. The pictures will make your mouth water. (You can go to babelfish.yahoo.com or translate.google.com to translate the pages: they are in traditional and not simplified Chinese.)
This is from the Tounghua (my spelling) Night Market and is very typical of Taiwanese cuisine. My absolute favorite are the twig-like objects on the upper-left side of the center pan.
Duck tongue! I was shocked how good these were. They are usually served heavily spiced, soaked in soy sauce and others things. If you’ve ever had beef tendon (I can recommend a good place in Chinatown in Manhattan), you’ll notice that duck tongue has a similar consistency. Kind of springy and chewy with a hint of meat. There are many bones you have to bite around, but it’s worth the trouble. Once you start eating one, you can’t stop. They’re so small, just snacks really. I promise you will love them.
Next to the duck tongue are sausages, probably some kind of sweet meat. My Chinese stinks, so I wasn’t able to figure out. They are pretty good, but the tongue is better.
The chicken hearts you see are much better than duck hearts. The problem with duck hearts, I think, is that people are determined to serve/marinate them whole. They’re just too big and unless you do it perfectly, the center tends to be a bit mushy. Chicken hearts, on the other hands, keep their freshness easier.
I forgot to take a picture, but I also had a small bag of chicken stomach. It’s cut into small pieces and served spicy, like the duck tongue. They give you a bag and a long tooth pick to snag them. I haven’t the knack because the pieces are kind of slippery and when I did manage to poke the meat, I poked right through the bag. Excellent snack to serve with beer.
The left-hand pan has two kinds of tofu-kan, some duck liver, and seaweed. The tofu-kan here is varied, delicate and delicious. I’ll have to find better pictures and I’ll post a more complete description later.