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Mi-Fen Tang, Morning Market edition

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

The alleyways look the same, light coating the dilapidated structures in a way that never grows old, holding the city together. Conversations bloom all around me, the familiar Taiwanese and Hakka syllables nostalgic of a simpler time. I search for the sugarcane stand, and recognize the man and his wife who have been there before my birth. This is the morning market nestled next to my grandmother's apartment complex in Yonghe, an organism of its own. The sweat beads glistening on the butcher's forehead, the sounds of haggling, the shuffling of feet are all part of the experience. We squeeze past the crowd to find the mi-fen tang (rice noodle soup) stand, a small stall always overflowing with customers. Mi-fen tang is a classic Taiwanese delicacy, rice noodles cooked in a rich pork broth. My hands cradle the bowl of soup like a long-lost treasure, sprinkling green onion and white pepper before the first spoonful. This stall fed me as a child, was there for me every summer as I deepened my American roots, reminding me with the same consistency that I always had a place to return to. Before heading back up, we would swing by the fruit vendor, inspecting the skin of a wax apple for gloss, measuring how supple the dragonfruit were in our palms. Have you ever had a wax apple? It is quite special. The flesh is spongier than a normal apple, slightly crunchy but refreshingly tart and sweet at the same time. When picking one out, look for one with a nice sheen. These little traditions defined so much of my childhood, were forgotten as soon as I returned to the desert landscape of Los Angeles, yet somehow became a part of me.

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