A Traditional Market

Final exams for the Advanced Wine Course occurred today. Everyone passed. Overall, I would say that the students being trained to be Guild instructors to teach in China have the same skill level as instructors in the US. No more, no less. The exception would be Dr. Lim, who has more than 15 years experience teaching at the university level.

It has been interesting finding everything needed to teach Guild professional courses in China.  INAO glasses, carts, tools, 3-ring binders, even printers.  Everything.  We have had 12 years to develop materials – they will have done it, to teach 3 Guild courses, in 5 months and another 6 courses in another 6 months, after I come back in December. Plus the added problem of translation into Mandarin. Although there are other programs available in China, we will be the only one where the materials and exams are in Chinese (Mandarin).

They are not finished yet. I am teaching the Certified Wine Instructor (CWI) course as the last course before I head home.  It starts tomorrow and runs for 4 days.

We will have a big graduation dinner, for the faculty and staff, at the end of the CWI course, and will present diplomas at that time.  The tailor is coming to get measurements for the green jackets tomorrow so they will, hopefully, be ready in time for the graduation dinner.

We actually finished the Sommelier Practical Exam early, by about 3:30 pm, so Dr. Lim, Ms. Soon and I went to a market on our way to dinner. (They decided to have exams in the afternoon rather than the morning.)

I have been to two ‘markets’ in Hangzhou now, so this gives me the opportunity to compare ‘tradition’ and ‘new’ markets. The traditional market is somewhat similar to markets I have been to in Europe, particularly an indoor market in Florence.

You arrive at the tradition market (which is right around the corner from the seafood restaurant we ate dinner at a few nights ago and are going to again tonight) by going down an alley filled with people selling food and other items. These street vendors, shown in Picture 0526/1, are the ‘black market.’  Apparently you are not suppose to sell food on the street – only in the markets.

Looking at the quality of some of the food I saw being sold – you would not want to buy anything from the street vendors.

You enter the market by going through a passageway and turnstile about midway down this alley. I am sure the market was marked in some way but I did not see a sign for it. Inside are over 100 stalls with individuals selling every grocery item you might be interested in.  They are grouped by product: one section of the market was for live fish, one for dead fish, one for vegetables and fruits, one for eggs, one for pork, and one for poultry. There was also a spice market – with one vendor. Beef and lamb was not sold in this market. Picture 0523/2 is what you see as you enter the market.

There might be twenty vendors for one group of products, or just a couple.  Apparently, the stalls are ‘owned’ by families. Some families own several stalls and might sell meats and produce. My entering the market created quite a sensation – apparently I was the first ‘westerner’ to every enter this market.  The market manager, as well as several vendors told us this as we walked around looking at things.

They were not real excited about me taking pictures – so I used my iPhone; which does not have a flash like my digital camera and is therefore less obtrusive. We just walked along the walls, not through the center of the market. You have to pay attention – electric motor scooters are driving up and down the isles picking up orders for deliver, or delivering fresh products to the stalls. They drive like it’s the Indy 500.

Our first stop was the stalls for live fish; they ran down one side of the building. There must have been 20 stalls, all showing fish in small red tubs. Unfortunately, the lighting made it almost impossible to take photographs of the fish in the tubs because the light reflected off the surface directly into the camera.

However, I was able to get one clear picture, picture 0508/3 are turtles, cleaned and gutted, ready to be taken home and steamed for dinner. 

You can see some of the red tubs used for fish in the foreground and background of this picture.  Again, no prices are listed; you haggle with the vendor over price.

Next we walked by the fruit and vegetable section of the store; picture 0510/4.

You can see the small stalls in the picture – each about 10’ long.  Some families owned several stalls, others just one. Picture 0511/5 shows a bigger stall that specialized in all kinds of melons. The watermelons looked good.

As we continued on, we next went by a small group of stalls – only 4 – that specialized in already cleaned and gutted fish, crustacean, octopi and jellyfish. Picture 0513/6 shows one of these stalls.

This was not an air-conditioned space, and it was summer, yet there was no fish smells, or any smells for that matter.  They really did bring in fresh fish every day, or any meat, vegetable or produce.

By this point in our journey through the market, we were being followed by a group of small children, but every time I turned around to take a picture of them they scattered.

We walked through a door into a separate room where the pork vendors sold their goods. Again, several stalls, with every possible cut (and a few you have never seen before) of pork.  See picture 0518/7.

Each vendor, as we walked by, would hold up a nice cut of pork to tempt us to purchase it; including heads, feet, legs, everything.  There were, literally, startled expressions when they realized I was a ‘westerner’ walking through the market.

We walked out of that room and down a passageway along the back of the vegetable stands to another, smaller room, where you purchased poultry. 

This is shown in pictures 0520/8 and 0531/9.  Poultry is sold alive, like the ‘better’ fish.  When you purchase one they will de-feather, gut and dress it on the spot for you to take home. Sorry, no pictures of that process.

The last stall we went by on our way out of the market was the spice stall, picture 0524/10. 

Lots of loud voices hawking their products, trying to out yell each other, was what you heard entering or leaving the market. Tomorrow I will send pictures of a ‘new’ market.

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