Monday, November 21, 2016

Artists of the World, Unite!

I wanted to create a photo essay of our trip in Taiwan, but who wants to see a bunch of pictures of me? So I decided to walk around the streets of Taipei, looking for average people doing their jobs.

When we think of the people in the world who have the most influence and power, we normally think of political leaders, business tycoons, and pop culture icons. But where would any of them be without people like you and me who staff their factories, construct their buildings, grow their food, and, of course, provide their entertainment? In fact, where would any of us be without the workers of the world, who take pride in their craft and create the products we use, the houses we live in, and help bring a little pleasure to our lives.

So I hope you enjoy . . .

The Artists of Taipei

A performance artist doing his best to earn tips. He's actually a world-renouned yoyo artist who's traveled the world performing.

The dumpling artists work late in the evening while a line of hungry students wait outside the door.
A very important artist—the surgical oncologist. He spent eight hours in the operating room with this special patient—my nephew.

The Red-Nosed Acrobatic Artists, providing some hair-raising entertainment.

A humanitarian artist wants to find homes for abandoned animals.

The biscuit artist is trying to convince us how fresh the biscuits are.

All the artwork in this shop was made by this porcelain artist.

A food artist, chopping chicken for a hungry customer.

A quartet of construction artists.

Tearing down a building for a new tenant requires the hard work of a deconstruction artist.

A washing artist might not think of her work as art, but would you want to eat on dirty dishes?

This man's family makes artful dried fruit and vegetables, which he sells in the traditional market.

The garbage artist? Sure, unless you want garbage everywhere.

This artist created a yummy blueberry yogurt work of art that gave me a mild brain freeze, but tasted great!

Art on a keychain. This one is a Totoro.

Making art out of magnolia flowers, which he sells in front of the Buddhist temple.

Pork artist. This man told me he'll lose his livelihood next year when open markets like this are no longer allowed. The young whippersnappers all like to shop in supermarkets these days.

Creating and selling artistic pork song—a type of dried, feathery jerky—is tiring. 

The recycling artist works for the city to collect plastic. He doesn't sell this—his job is to keep the streets clean for the rest of us to enjoy.

The restaurant hostess skillfully finds any remaining seats at the Evergreen Vegetarian restaurant. They claim the food is very healthy, which I think is true because I saw a lady at one table who looked at least 130 years old.

Mechanical artist taking care of a Yamaha. This was taken late in the evening and he still had several more scooters to finish.

A window washing artist keeps the front of the department store shiny and clean.

This spray paint artist creates works of art in ten minutes that he sells for about US$6.

This artist keeps the street in front of his house clean.

And this artist works in the park to wash the amphitheater where performers come on weekends.

Two window dressing artists preparing a new restaurant.

An artist that takes colored wire and wraps it into all sorts of beautiful creations.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Food Court City

Our family recently went looking for a well-known taco cart in Salt Lake City. Apparently the taco guy took a personal day, so we ended up at a food court downtown. It happened to be in a mall that's seen better days and is hard at work on its renaissance—but it's not quite there yet.

I've never really enjoyed American food court food, though an occasional gem can be found if one looks hard. And this particular food court is pretty bad. There are few food choices, the acoustics make it horribly noisy, and much of what we finally ordered that day turned out sub-par—except McDonald's and Subway, which basically tastes the same anywhere you go. I think the shrimp in my crispy sushi rolls were dredged out of the Great Salt Lake. The taste was reminiscent of the way our car smelled one time after we accidentally left a raw pot roast in it when parked in hundred-degree heat—for three days.

The day after our food court experience, Stephanie and I flew to Taiwan, though it wasn't because of the food court—or the recent election results. It was actually a planned trip to visit family. So here we are in Taipei, surrounded by wonderful-smelling food everywhere we go. It's like the entire city is a food court. Except this food is mostly good.

Fruits, vegetables, breads, treats, sweets, and meats surround us everywhere we turn.

We ran into a problem on our first day here, though, because we couldn't eat any of it—and it was by choice. We had a particular need to skip a few meals that day, and we soon discovered that you should NEVER walk around Taipei while fasting. The temptations are just too great. We basically lost all willpower. I'm happy (I guess) to say that we made it—we didn't eat until we got home that evening and had yummy homemade mother-in-law food.

I'm an inconsistent vegetarian and prefer spicy ethnic cuisine, or basically not the American food I grew up with. Stephanie is an omnivore that prefers the tastes of her East Asian homeland. So when in Utah, we often drive all over looking for something we both want to eat, then end up just going home and heating up leftovers. But here in cosmopolitan Taipei, we can both find anything we want.

It was worth skipping a couple meals—and flying thousands of miles—to get all of this.