One of our favorite ways to experience a new place while travelling is to visit markets and shops where locals shop for food. You're able to get a sense of what everyday life is like, as you see everyday folks shop and sample.
Never was this more true than while traveling in China a couple months ago. In Shanghai and then again in Yangshuo, we had the chance to visit several "wet markets," and to see everything that was on offer there.
In Yangshuo, we snapped quite a few photos, along with some video, and thought you might enjoy getting a glimpse inside a Chinese market.
Almost everywhere we went in southern China, we saw fresh or dried persimmons, like the ones above. In the countryside, we'd see them laid out on huge pallets to dry.
We have no idea what these are, but we loved the look of them. They're jujubes! Thanks to the commenters for letting us know!
Tofu was being sold in every market, in many forms. In one market we visited, it was the only item we weren't allowed to photograph. We never did understand quite why, but it had something to do with that particular seller not wanting to let people see how she prepared her tofu. Who knew tofu was intellectual property?
The markets were full of tubs of live items for sale, everything from mollusks to frogs to eels. Here are a few tubs of snails. You can see some of these items in slimy, slithery action in the video at the end of this post.
This gives you a sense of how many tubs we're talking about, just on one side of the market.
We're (fairly) sure these are eels but they look an awful lot like snakes to us.
Live frogs! You can't get that at Safeway.
Small fish varieties.
The daikon radish were absolutely massive, as you can see here.
The Chinese people we met referrred to this plant as Chinese lettuce. Later this same day, we took a cooking class and used the lettuce. You actually eat the stem itself (although we assume you can eat the leaves as well). It was somewhat similar to celery, but a denser, non-stringy, lettuce-tasting celery. Actually, maybe not similar to celery...
Cucumbers (we think). Bitter melon. (Thanks, commenters!)
Families were sitting and shelling beautiful beans that you could then purchase.
Massive zucchini! Check out how it absolutely dwarfs the scale next to it. (We were told this wasn't even a particularly large zuccini!)
Huge sacks of dried fish also on offer.
We were obsessed with these eggs, and we'd guess that there were easily a dozen varieties of eggs on offer. One variety, though, was smeared with this red paste. We're not sure what it is, but we'd be interested to try them.
So what's not pictured here? Tons! Here's a little video we shot inside the market in Yangshuo that gives you a sense of the scale and the ... liveliness ... of the food for sale.