The variety of food shopping in Guanzhou is pretty vast. There are the traditional grocery stores (my favorite one is a Japanese-owned chain), a Sam’s Club-esque mega center, an Australian butcher/baker, an overpriced yet uber convenient Western grocery store less than a block away, and then there’s the Wet Market.
A Wet Market is an open-air market selling fresh fruits, veggies, and meats, including seafood. Our neighborhood market is on the first and basement level floors underneath a large hotel and residential tower. Most neighborhoods have a wet market of some sort, although I have heard ours is one of the most comprehensive ones. In addition to “wet” items, there are many stalls selling conveniences that remind you of being in Walmart.
Our wet market is by far the cheapest place to buy produce. It’s probably the freshest place, and likely the place where you need to spend the most time cleaning your produce. It’s loud, a little dirty, and full of local culture. To buy, you approach the stand and the vendor hands you a basket. You fill up your basket with what you want and they weigh it and tell you the price – cash only!
Downstairs are vegetables and small stores and service people – like shoe repair, nail salon, a tailor, toys and inexpensive clothes.
FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Fresh veggies – most people buy what they need daily.
There are probably about 20 veggie venders. Almost all have carrots, broccoli and onions. The variety comes in what kinds of greens, potatoes, bok choi, and herbs you want. There are also about 15 varieties of mushrooms available.
I’m not exactly sure what this root vegetable is?
The fruit stands are upstairs. There are half a dozen stalls and all have oranges, dragon fruit and bananas. Many will also have kiwi, pomelo, star fruit, tomatoes, strawberries, apples and cherries. One stand has blueberries and avocados – which are special treats here due to the price.
I love these little Mandarin oranges! My fruit lady always opens one up for me to sample while I’m shopping!
The wet market is also a source of fresh meat. There are probably 30 stalls with meat – mostly pork. All open air, all next door to each other and the fruit stands. It’s tolerable in the cooler months but during the steamy summer, this place is home to lots of strong odors.
You can buy innards.
Take your pick! They will mince the meat on the spot with a pair of super sharp knives.
The dude behind the counter is eating his lunch!
Proving that it’s the animal you say it is in China is important. The sign wasn’t enough for the goat stand.
The chicken stand – you pick your (live) chicken, watch them prepare it. Key word here – YOU! I do not buy chicken this way. Surprised?
More chickens at the ready in wooden round basket crates.
The tofu stand. Fresh or already fried. Right across from the chicken stand.
There’s also fish. This is where the smelly stuff starts and the awareness of what’s on the bottom of your shoes becomes present.
Tanks with live fish – large and small – are around.
Basket cages hold frogs and turtles.
This kind lady chops fish all day long.
The fish is so freshly prepared that the mouths, now separated from the filleted bodies, are still gulping for watery air.
New discovery – a bucket of snakes. Awesome.
Crabs all tied up with a bow.