13 March 2012

Dried fish and cow head for dinner, dear?

Food markets in Asia, it has to be said, are somewhat different from those in the UK.  Louder, messier and with a much higher yuck factor - a real assault on the senses.  Yesterday, as part of an outing with a photography club, I was at Chow Kit market, a traditional "wet" market.  (Wet as in the floor is wet, though you wouldn't want to know with what, and hopefully because it can also be hosed clean.)

 The usual and somewhat more unusual fruit and veg were there in abundance.  

As were dried fish.  Whole dried fish, tiny and much larger; bits of dried fish, huge slit-vertically-head-to-toe-from-the-belly-then-flattened-out fish.  There were a few very lively fish too, splashing about in pitifully shallow water, trying to ensure they got some cover.

Chickens were plentiful too.  Some with heads on, some without.  Virtually all with feet - after all, chicken's feet are quite the delicacy here. The most grim sights were those of the cow meat though - big chucks of anonymous looking beef, next to hairy hooves in buckets or on hooks.  And on one particularly aromatic stall, a row of cow heads. 

But in many ways, the market was also surprisingly similar to that in my home town of Leicester.  Cheery stall-holders presenting their wares as best they could (an interesting challenge in some cases!), and bantering with customers.  People hunting for fresh, cheap food to feed their families.  And, on the whole, an overall feeling of bon homie.  Of course, Leicester market might not be like that any more, but it's how I like to remember it! 

As for how I'd like to remember Chow Kit market, while the sight of the cows' heads will undoubtedly stay with me for a good while, I hope I remember the people there for much longer.  They were so friendly, asking where we were from, welcoming us to Malaysia, and volunteering either themselves or their workmates for photos.  The photo below, despite being out of focus, is my favourite for the sheer character and humour of the stall holder.

No comments: