Chinese Association of Idaho State University (CAISU)
A Tour of a Hong Kong Wet Market
The portly frog and I eyed each other from afar. The frog looking like he hoped to break free from his cage at a Hong Kong wet market. Me, the sentimental, animal-loving vegan, wanting to set him loose.To get more wetmarket, you can visit shine news official website.
Called Ting-gai in Cantonese, which oddly enough translates to mean "field chicken," frogs are used in a variety of dishes in Hong Kong, particularly rice congee. They’re just one of the many types of animals on display at a wet market, a place where everything from poultry, to fish, and reptiles are sold out in the open.
New York City and Berlin Sign First-Ever Tourism Partnership.The markets, which occupy streets and alleys, storefronts and stalls, are where many locals shop on a daily basis for food in Hong Kong.
They’re a vibrant hive of activity, a crush of people who come as much to socialize as to inspect the freshly cut slabs of meat, the carefully stacked pyramids of vegetables and all manner of shellfish, from oysters on the half shell to razor clams.
“This is the real Hong Kong,” my guide, Sidney Luk, told me. “People have contact with each other here. They can say ‘Hey, how was your day?’”“Chinese people go to wet markets every day. When they see a product here, they know it’s fresh and it’s cheaper than going to a shopping mall,” Luk added.
As I learned during my recent visit, a wet market is clearly not for the faint of heart. Or for vegetarians or vegans. (Culinary daredevil Anthony Bourdain I am not, as much as I’d like to be.) The stacks of pig’s heads dangling on hooks, the innards on display, the severed goat heads with eyes still intact staring out at me, were a bit more than I had expected.
My visit to the market was prompted by a desire to see local life and experience the culture of everyday people in Hong Kong. I had spent days admiring the city’s famed skyscrapers, visiting posh rooftop bars sipping martinis and peering from observatories 100 stories in the sky designed to provide sweeping views of the architectural feat that is Hong Kong, a city that boasts the largest number of skyscrapers in the world.Now it was time to explore the city up close, from the ground, immersed in the smells and sounds, the language and the bustle of the streets. The wet market was my first stop during an afternoon of exploration.
The origin of wet markets can be traced back to China, according to a research paper by G. William Skinner. Peasants in China’s traditional agrarian society were mostly self-sufficient, producing all of their own food and immediate necessities.
However, to obtain specialized goods they had to visit an exchange. These markets would be held on specific dates along main streets or in a temple courtyard and opened only periodically for a few hours in the morning perhaps every three to five days. Peasants would assemble on market days to sell everything from chickens or duck to extra eggs or grains and vegetables. The earliest record of these markets appears during the Ming dynasty in the 16th century when the name “Yuen Long periodic market” was in use.
As the end of the 20th century approached, permanent markets were established and gradually took over. The modern day version of these markets are held every single day and are visited by all levels of society.
They are also increasingly attracting tourists in search of the "real Hong Kong." As a result, locals are not unaccustomed to seeing foreigners amid the crowds of shoppers. But do yourself a favor and don't get in anyone's way as they're shopping or doing business, as it's not taken kindly. (Instagramers be warned).
My guide walked me through the throng, pausing every so often to explain how the various animals on display are used. Out of politeness to my host, I refrained from explaining that I'm a vegan.The meat, fish, and vegetables sold at a wet market are displayed under dangling red lights designed to make the food look even fresher.
In some cases, customers want to see the animal live before it's purchased. And many wet markets have facilities for allowing a buyer to choose a live animal, then take it home as is or see it killed and cleaned.