One thing we love about Taipei is that it's so obviously comfortable in its own skin.
Confident enough of its 21st century-ness that it's not driven to clear the streets of food sellers to prove its standing as a 'modern' city, Taipei is a metropolis in which skyscrapers and upscale eateries happily coexist with itinerant vendors, often on the same block.
In Wanhua District we bumped into a vendor peddling, from a hand-pushed two-wheeled cart, a mysterious sweet that we'd encountered nowhere else on the island -- chewy bite-sized squares chilled underneath blocks of ice,
and tossed in ground sesame seeds before bagging.
It was a warm day and the chilled marshmallow-ish pillows, lightly toasty and not too sweet, hit the spot.
The gent was decidedly nonplussed by Dave's camera and resisted my attempts to conduct an informal interview. He did, however, tell us how long he's been plying his trade on the streets of Wanhua: 50 years, give or take a few.
Update 12/11/09: Mystery solved -- this is a traditional Taiwanese treat made of sweet potato (sometimes green bean) and rolled in plain flour, toasted. Apparently the vendor, known to folks in the 'hood as Ah Bee, is a bit of a local celebrity. If you can read Chinese, further info awaits here.
Thanks much to K, a font of info on all things Taiwanese (especially food)!
Chewy sweets vendor, somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection of Guiyang and Xitang Roads -- maybe -- in Wanhua district, Taipei. He says he's there everyday, public holidays excepted.