Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hong Kong Diary Day 20 Tai O Dried Food Market

We escape to China today! Continuing our way through Tai O, a small fishing village on Lantau Island, after visiting the pier and the small museum, we made our way towards the dried foods market. Pictured below, a glimpse of life by the sea, a small view of what was to come on this day.A shot of the tight alleyway behind the living quarters by the market, there was room for bicycles and air conditioners, even some potted plants.
Laundry hung out to dry on the edge of the residential area as it gradually gave way to the commercial quarter.
The first shop we came across, a man selling traditional Chinese cakes, I could not recall what the names were but they sure smelled good. My eyes wandered onto the large jade bangle on his wrist, it looked very thick and heavy, the Chinese believe jade, especially antique jade, has the power to protect the body and spirit.
Walking on we came to the market, the bustling sound drew us in, under the shady canopy of plastic tarps were shop after shop selling dried seafood. Below a typical stall where several plastic trays displayed various fishy goods.
There was lots of bargaining, some customers reached for the package to get a good feel.
Some even reached out to touch the product with their bare hands.
Others placed it against their nose for a sniff test, I wondered if they could tell the difference, everything smelled so fresh.
Amongst all the haggling, some business deals were made, below the smiling customer proudly handed over her chosen item to the merchant...
...who promptly bagged it, returning any change resulting from the cash sale. The market was getting very crowded, it was sure warm under the plastic roof, the little fan pictured below did little to cool off the air.
Regardless one could stay cool with sunglasses, like this shop owner.
There was so many different types of dried seafood, I could not tell what most of them were but a familiar item was the hanging row of salty fish. I was told the better ones had 3 teeth, their heads would be wrapped in paper to hide this unsightly bit.
On closer observation I recognized the dried shrimp on the bottom right, but these were a very healthy size. Its briny scent brought back memories of picking through, cleaning and later soaking the reddish morsels. After chopping them to bits, my mom would add them to pan fried vegetables as an added source of calcium.
Below one of the neatest booth at the market, all products were neatly packaged in bags, I was impressed with the folded and stapled edges. There was dried scallops, sea cucumbers, fish stomach, salty fish and on the top right, dried sharks' fins.
At the same stall by the weighing scale, plastic bags of all sizes were accumulated to suit all your shopping needs.
But not all products were from the sea, I spotted some dried duck parts on the bottom row, second from the right, they looked like giblets.
Not all merchandise was edible, this lady was selling strings of pearls and seashell accessories.
This colorful fabric caught my eye, its Chinese patterns added a festive touch to the place.
Outside the hanging wall of fabrics on the edge of the market, a patient partner stood waiting for his mate.
It was past lunch time and we were hungry, we followed the scent of cooked food and headed towards the restaurants. Join us next week as our China adventure continues!

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