I have started to love going to the nearby vegetable market. I don’t need to go every day because I’m only cooking for one person so I don’t need to get fresh ingredients every day. As a recreational activity, I would definitely go every morning, but then I fear I would spend too much money, so I don’t allow myself to do that either. You might be wondering why a vegetable market would be so appealing – okay, well maybe you aren’t if you know how much I love a good farmer’s market in the States – even though I’m not buying anything. But the catch is that there is actually much, much more in the vegetable market than vegetables.
Here are some pictures to tell the story. I got a little shy about taking pictures, so these hardly represent the hustling, bustling variety of things that are sold:
Not only that, it changes every day. I honestly never know quite what I am going to find when I go to the market. After comparing notes with some other people who frequent such markets, it seems as though most of the shop keepers must be on a rotation between different markets in the city. Of course, the period of rotation is the mystery, and most likely varies. Consider this conversation that I had with a man selling tea (based on how I remember it):
Me: Hey, I’ve never seen you before.
Tea-seller: I am regularly here. I don’t recognize YOU as a regular.
Me: Well, I have come to this market regularly and you have never been here.
Tea-seller: Ah. I have been coming to this market for 20 years.
Me: Oh. I have been coming for the past few months and you’re definitely not always here.
Tea-seller: Of course not, I’ll be at a different market tomorrow. I go to different ones throughout the city.
I suppose we just hadn’t crossed paths before because his rotation through each market might be a while – months, maybe? Also, as I said, I don’t go every day, so it’s possible that I missed him before.
Yesterday, it felt as though the vegetable market was really understanding and catering to my needs. I have been craving the natural peanut butter that I used to survive for the past 4 years. The only thing that I’ve found that has been close has also been outrageously expensive (more than $10 for a jar about half the size of a jar that would cost $3 in the US). I had just been contemplating the idea of making my own – after all, it is the non-complexity of natural peanut butter which is what makes it amazing and delicious: just peanuts (and a pinch of salt and possibly sugar)! It seems as though a good food processor can do the trick if you add a little bit of oil, and fancier folks use mills, but it doesn’t seem to be necessary. I had just started thinking “maybe buying a food processor would be worth it if I could have my own, delicious natural peanut butter.”
I was ambling through the market in order to obtain some fruits and it just so happened that there was a man selling miniature hand-food processors for 100NT (~$3.50 USD). After the shopkeeper’s confident assurances that the little razor blades could handle peanuts, I figured it was worth the plunge. I also bought a bag of peanuts (because of course the market has those around) and was on my way to a DIY peanut butter adventure. The steps were simple: toast peanuts, process them, profit. Here’s what happened, as told through pictures:
Summary: I think this is full of win! Both a moderate forearm exercise (all that twisting) and also the road to natural peanut butter! The mix with the sesame for smoothness is an acceptable compromise, but with some experimentation, straight PB is still a goal. I may also experiment with fresher peanuts, as someone on the interwebs recommended as a way to avoid the dry chunks.
Also, I think it is a notable step in my connection to Taiwan that the vegetable market understands my needs and sends someone selling food processors just when I am thinking about buying one. More win.