It’s been incredibly hot and humid during the day, so we’ve tried to venture out in the mornings and evenings to avoid the worst of the heat. Our latest evening adventure was to one of the many street markets, where the smell of fish greats you with a full body hug!
The interesting thing is that most of what is sold, is still very much alive…
Eels, rock fish, crabs, sand worms, catfish, carp, pike, pickerel, grayling, whitefish, zander, trout, toads, tortoise, soft shelled turtles…just to name a few, are swimming, laying, writhing, squirming and splashing around, waiting their turn to be scooped up for dinner.
Some of the fish I didn’t recognize, looked pelagic, with huge jaws and scaleless looking bodies – the kind you don’t want squirming between your toes.
All sorts of tube worms, hermit crabs and snails were also displayed and ready for consumption.
Though we didn’t see shark fin, we did see the whole darn thing out on ice and ready to take home.
Turtle soup is a favorite dish served in Chinese homes and restaurants, so soft shelled turtles are readily available – all wrapped up in red mesh bags. I felt bad for them as they, and cute little tortoise the size of a chicken egg, lay looking at me as I passed.
I wanted to buy them all and set them free, but Emma reminded me that if I did, I would be supporting the problem. Hundreds more would be there the next day to take their place.
Believe it or not, I even felt bad for the frogs!
Once critters are purchased, you can have them prepared right there by vendors.
The vendors are extremely efficient and skilled in their preparation – like this crab lady, who prepped a few crabs in about 2 seconds for a customer.
Some were already prepared and lay lifeless on top of cages and tubs filled with their live buddies – like these birds.
Mounds of jelly lay ready, which is used in desserts and teas.
Dried foods are a staple in China, and can be stored for great lengths of time. One can find anything from dried squid, shrimp, abalone, sea cucumber, tube worms, octopus, oysters, shark fin, fish maw and jellyfish,
to starfish, mushrooms, spices, teas and many other things I haven’t been able to name yet.
Fresh produce is also in great abundance and so beautifully displayed in large baskets.
Vendors worked their magic out on the street, selling and conversing.
Behind the street vendors, are large open stores, where further shopping can be done.
Street markets wouldn’t be complete without the small of cooking food filling the air – some of it recognizable and some not at all.
Alleyways leading off the main streets were also filled with vendors as well as empty containers, food preparation areas and doorways to homes.
Sometime I’d like to wander down them, and see where they lead…
I did see one flower stand, but when I bent down to smell the blooms, all I could smell was fish.
The incense lady had a good idea though, and for a brief moment sandalwood and champa filled my nostrils, which was a welcomed reprieve.
A sweet elderly man caught my attention by waving his shirt open and closed at me, and wanted his picture taken. I’d love to know his life story.
China is fascinating. We feel completely safe here, don’t understand a single soul without our translator or apps, love the rich culture and beautiful people, and look forward to each new day.