Creativity and Ramblings from the heart of NYC and around the World

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Hello all!!!
Thought I'd share my fun morning in Dongguan, China...

What a GREAT morning! Got up early and I rode along to the Chinese food market area. WOW! I took a bunch of photos. Apparently they hadn't wanted to take me for fear that I would loose my appetite in seeing the whole or live fish prior to eating them. I guess many Westerners have this trouble... I can say for sure as curious as I was about the product being sold is as curious as the patrons and sellers were about me -- a million eyes on me at a time. (And the digital camera got many an oooh and ahhhh!)

It's early but already 75F and very humid... the air is THICK!
Each group (fruit, sea fish, shellfish, veggies, meat, sausage, cooked foods etc.) were in a section of their own, whether an entire street dedicated to this (fruit) or just a section of a series of connected warehouses. First we stopped by the fruit stand of choice but decided to come back at the end as they were unloading a truck of fresh fruit and since it's loaded in from the street... there wasn't any place to stand that we weren't in the way!

Heading toward the next stop I pass BAGS of dried peppers and peas and beans. The colors -- amazing! I wish I could bring some home!

And snakes...

We walked over to get the fresh, live crabs for lunch. As we rounded the corner you are struck by the wall of...of... stench. I could detect Fish (strongest) followed by earth and body odor. It may sound gross but it isn't, it's rather shocking and intoxicating at the same time.

Being a crab expert, A-sau (head of all of my trimmers) came along to select them herself. Their legs are tied up with bamboo and they are stacked, live, in bins.

Next to this bin you can find a bin of live eels swimming around in water, a bin of live turtles all climbing about trying to escape,

a cage of hopping frogs and bins of live swimming shrimp waiting to be brought to your kitchen.

We pass the bins of tripe and live fish and walk to the sea fish area to select a "golden thread" fish for lunch, apparently highly sought after in Japan now...but an everyday fish here. The variety of fish is amazing! I want to cook!! :-)

We then walked to the meat area -- basically it's cuts of meat lying out on cardboard on a makeshift table. You can touch the meat to select what you want. It isn't understood how we can buy meat in our markets without being able to inspect it and touch is to make sure it's good. Two bits of meat are selected...pork I think.

Onward thru the hall of cooked food...piles of pig ears cooked as a local delicacy, whole roasted ducks and of the ladies asks me if I want a pig ear or snout. They are "good snacks" since they last all afternoon!

On we go to the vegetable room in this warehouse. Picture an amazing farmers market! Many vegetables I recognized, others I did not. I selected the vegetables for lunch and learned how to select good, ripe items. So many types of spinach and bok choi etc. The colors - amazing! And the smell -- earthy and warm -- it changes as you pass from stand to stand.

The tofu and soy available is amazing!

Finally we head back to the fruit market and it's twice as full! We bought hairy leche (the spiny looking little fruit), the queen fruit (purple with thick looking rounded leaves on top) and a local melon. I could have spent hours there learning about the different fruits and veggies alone! :-)

We didn't buy this - a Durian fruit -- so STINKY once cut open, that many hotels will kick you out if you are found to have one while staying on their property.

Now I can't wait to see how Futsi cooks it for lunch!!! I can't tell if I'm spoiled or just REALLY fortunate!


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