Monday, August 15, 2011

Market Tour Part Four: Meat

Depending on your personal proclivities, this section may be either the most exciting part of the market tour or the least. If you happen to be a vegetarian, well, the tofu's at the end of the post. You might want to just skip ahead to the noodles or back to the vegetables for awhile, because this post gets a little bloody.

The second floor of the market is devoted to meat. What you'll see here is mostly pork, which is by far the most popular meat in the Chinese mainland, and the popularity is only growing as living standards and meat consumption rise. According to the New York Times, "While per-person consumption is still higher in some nations like Denmark, the Chinese, over all, produce and eat more than half the world’s pigs."

So we'll be looking at a lot of pork today.
 Meat - 01

At the market, it's all out in front of you, not kept behind glass. As in the rest of the market, the meat section is made up of individual purveyors instead of following a centralized grocery store model. If I want a heart, liver, pig foot, or tripe from this lady, I'll select one and pay her for it. If I want a chicken from the stall across the hall, I'll go to that vendor and buy one from her.

 Meat - 02

 Meat - 03
The shopper in front of me investigated the tripe for freshness. It was quite fresh.

 Meat - 04

There are many kinds of eggs available. Chicken eggs, duck eggs, pigeon eggs, quail eggs, goose eggs, preserved eggs, 100-year-old eggs, tea-soaked eggs. The other day I picked up a tea-soaked egg from the convenience store and was disappointed to find it was actually an espresso-soaked egg. Tea-soaked eggs are wonderful. Now that I think of it, I should do a post on those in the future. Stay tuned for that.

 Meat - 05

We picked up some preserved eggs for later.

 Meat - 08

Whole poultry, and poultry broken down into its component parts. Note the presence of black chickens. I was interested in getting one of those, but my host, Chunyi, said that black chickens are more nutritious than regular chickens, but they don't taste as good. They're very tough and are best when braised. Chunyi complained about the chicken breasts. "Why do these chickens have such huge breasts? We never had chickens with breasts like that back home. These chickens are weird mutants. This spring, I'll get some of my own so we can have normal-sized, chickeny chickens."

 Meat - 07

There was a random spine lying on the floor.

 Meat - 10

Many of the vendors selling beef and mutton were from the north of China. The vendor I talked to was from Xinjiang originally.

 Meat - 09

I promised you tofu, didn't I? The tofu display wraps up the meat floor with tofu blocks, tofu sheets, tofu noodles, preserved tofu and pre-cooked tofu. If any vegetarians are reading, I'm sorry you had to go through all the meat to get here.

Next post we'll conclude the tour with noodles and staples.

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