Sunday, June 8, 2008

China Day 09: To Market, To Market, To Buy A Fat Pig

We left our hotel early and headed to the first of our three stops before we go to the plane. When the bus pulled up, surprise! They weren't ready for us. (yes, I'm being deliberately mysterious about who "they" are!) This is because of it's still being a holiday. (The Dragon Boat Festival lasts for three days; today is the actual Dragon Boat Race Day! No dragon boats for us, alas.)

Not deterred by this setback, Tom and Fred rerouted us to what would have been Stop 2: a local market.

This is not exactly Giant Eagle!

In China, first, they are really into FRESH food. The people shop for fresh ingredients almost every day.

Second off, it's DRAGON BOAT RACE DAY! Picture a group of hapless Chinese tourists wandering around Giant Eagle on Thanksgiving morning, taking pictures of the food displays and of the locals, and trying not to get in the way. That's us!

We approached the entrance to the market
through a parking lot that was a sea of fully, partially and non-motorized personal transport vehicles
although some shoppers thought it would be easier if they just rode their mopeds right into the market!
The front end of the market was sort of the bakery/deli area, featuring more ready-made foodstuffs than further in. We saw steamers full of ready-to-eat goodies,
Peking duck,
a noodle seller,
and your choice of cooked or live crawdads.
Then we entered the main part of the market, which consisted of two long parallel aisles with stalls on either side.
We made a single loop, up one side and down the other, and it took us over 45 mintues! The stallholders all seem to be small independent merchants who rent space in this big market building; among the commodities for purchase were:
very fresh fish,
including eels,
pigs' trotters
and hen's feet,
thousand-year eggs and tea eggs,
a variety of pickles,
and things like cucumbers the size of tree trunks!
(I think these are vegetable marrows - sort of like enormous zucchini.)

The vegetable displays have an artistry, with contrasting colors and shapes of produce making an attractive quilt:
It was nice to see that man's best friend was not excluded from the delights of shopping: one customer pushed his (full-size) motorcycle through the market with his little dog perched on the saddle:
I should have learned how to say, "May I pet your dog?" in Chinese! Later on it seems this little guy decided he preferred to walk:
This fella, however, really lives on easy street:
What do you think - Pekingese mix?

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