Our Cycle Shanghai Tour also included a visit to three additional Public Markets: the food market and the pet market. The food market was home to amazingly fresh fruits, veggies and meats as well as a good store of dried goods (think rice, legumes and herbs). The food market was very busy but my American food safety standard sensibilities were definitely tested in this market.
Fresh veggies at the food market
Dried goods at the food market
Very fresh seafood including eels, clams and other shellfish.
Butterflied and air dried split chickens.
The Chinese chickens seemed to have longer legs than the American versions…
Upside down chickens waiting for a pot.
At the back end of the food market we found the freshest chicken around. We did stop to watch a local poke through the cages to find the PERFECT bird for her next meal. The chicken monger (is that a word?) took the selected chicken, sliced it’s throat and let it bleed out onto the floor. Once done, she dunked it in near boiling water for about 15 seconds. When she removed the chicken from the water the feathers all just fell off and the skin on the (evidently very tasty) chicken feet also pulled off like two tiny little socks. Fascinating.
A happy Chinese woman’s future dinner.
The amount of fresh seafood at this market was quite surprising. Some stalls smelled great — like a day at the beach, while others smelled like low tied at the pier.
Fresh squid and other fish.
The strangest thing we saw at the food market was a cage full of these little kittens.
Just kidding, these cute little kitties were actually at the next stop in our public market tour – the Pet Market. This market had cages full of birds, cats, rats/mice and other miscellaneous rodents as well as tanks full of some of the most colorful fish you’ve ever seen.
This bird was a jerk.
Tiny birds for tiny apartments.
I’m not a fish as a pet guy, but these guys with the puffed up cheeks looked pretty cool.
This bird was only a jerk when our tour guide started poking at him. I don’t blame him.
“Take me home – Lilly won’t mind, I promise” – Random caged Chinese kitten.
Outside the main public markets we found other poultry – chicken and ducks. The chickens had to be caged, but the ducks just sat on the cages or on the sidewalks. I found out later that the ducks had their legs broken so they couldn’t walk around, but people love chicken feet, so breaking their legs would reduce the value of the bird. Who knew?
This fruit looked pretty damn good for January.
The meat department / butcher shop also gave my food safety standards a run for their money. These hunks of meat were just sitting on a folding table being poked at by various patrons and just a few feet away from the ducks, chickens and pigeons who were shitting on anything around. I must admit, this meat did look much better than the stuff I get from Jewel near my house.
Here in the US we are all about farm to table dining, but I wonder how we would feel about food that is this fresh. Can many of us handle the idea of picking out a chicken who is walking by you on the side walk and saying “Yup, that’s my dinner tonight” and standing there while the shopkeep kills and butchers the animal. We are a resilient people, so I think after the first or second time we’d get use to it and it would become normal course for us.