My friends and I went to the Dihua St (迪化街) Lunar New Year market today. It was my first year braving the crowds to sample all the snacks and I consumed a sausage, balls rolled from sweet potato and dough, lots of fruit chips, quail eggs on a stick, and a cup of sugar cane juice. Afterward, we went out for Japanese food. As I look through my photos, however, my heart and belly yearns for all the food I didn’t eat. Beef jerky, corn on the cob brushed with butter and sprinkled with chili pepper, cookies, pastries, every kind of candy…
People go to Dihua St to buy niánhuò (年貨), or snacks and decorations for the Lunar New Year, but a big part of it is the spectacle. I saw these two “plum blossom princesses” (梅花公主) hosting a little presentation about the history of the area. The audience was very sparse, but the two women kept up a steady stream of chatter as they answered each other’s questions:
Plum blossom princess 1: “Do any of you know why Dihua St is important to Taipei’s history…”
Plum blossom princess 2: “OOOOOOOOH! Me me me! I do, I do!”
This CTV cameraman was balanced very carefully in the middle of the crowd:
Visiting Dihua St brought back memories of observing Lunar New Years with my family when I was a little girl. Of course, our celebrations were on a smaller scale because we lived in the US, but my parents often hosted gatherings at our house. Snack trays filled with the same goodies sold at Dihua St were placed on the coffee table in our living room and hot tea poured freely. All the kids got red envelopes stuffed with money. As the night wore on, the sugar and attention would go to our heads, and my brother and I would start clowning around. I remember that we once knotted our shirts into bikini tops and shoved oranges into each “cup.” Actually, we probably did that more than once.
One of our family trips to Taiwan took place over my elementary school’s winter break. My parents took my brother and me to a market where we could make our own wreaths because they figured “the American kids miss Christmas.” All the decorations were Chinese-themed: gold plastic ingots, little medallions, lucky characters. It was a really cool combination of my two cultures. Since moving to Taipei, I’ve kept my eye out each winter for another wreath market, but I’ve never seen one.
This photo of my friend Lauren and the sausage guy cracks me up.
Happy New Year! 新年快樂!