I didn't go to Taipei for its food. I went there on a business trip. I figured the food would be typical of any of my other business trips, except that I would be eating in Chinese restaurants. I was glad I was wrong.
I don't remember much of my trip, but I do remember eating perfectly fried chicken while standing among throngs of people at a huge night market. I remember the chicken was seasoned well with spices and sweat from the guy standing over the massive fryer.
I remember eating stinky tofu. I remember taking a whiff when I crammed myself in the food line and wondering whether I was making the right choice. I didn't, because I remember my nose wrinkling in disgust when I bit into the stale and smelly curd. It might as well have been toe crud.
I remember joining my coworkers at a hip Japanese hibachi/hot grill restaurant, where the walls were covered in polaroids of people making out and the clientele dressed like Japanese teenagers. I remember biting into paper-thin slices of rare cow tongue and wishing that all tongue tasted this good. I also remember downing a lot of calpico and vodka, which had just the right amount of tartness but the more memorable feeling of BUZZ.
I remember eating many bowls of steaming hot and spicy noodles. I remember thinking that the Taiwanese were crazy. Who eats spicy noodles in the middle of the summer? I did. Fried pork dumplings in hot sauce? Yes. Chili ice cream? No way, scratch that.
Lastly, I remember talking about food. Like that time when the waiter at the restaurant served a live monkey and ten forks to a group of executives and one guy passed out? How about the time when we went to the college cafeteria down the block from the office and we ladled soup stock from a big garbage can set in the middle of the room?
I remembered it all.