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Visiting a Chinese market (“caichang” in Chinese) is quite an adventure. The sheer variety of products, colours, flavours and sounds make this escapade feel like a voyage deep into Chinese Culture.

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Chinese markets are often split into two different parts: meat on the first floor and vegetables on the second. In each of these spaces, the living show of buyers and sellers make it so interesting for Westerners, who are more used to the American style supermarkets. The first source of surprise comes from the prepared food where very unusual parts of the animal are used. For instance, pig’s ears, goose tripe or duck tongues will be on offer, with optional ingredients like fresh peanuts, coriander and additional spice (lajiao) depending on the client’s taste. “One century eggs”, meaning eggs marinated in a mix of clay, ash and salt for conservation purposes, are also on display. They are often eaten together with tofu, which itself has no strong taste. The seafood including shellfish and crabs, fish such as eels or squid (most of the time alive to guarantee freshness) are all part of the delights of Chinese markets. Pork and chicken are also highly appreciated by Chinese consumers. On the second floor, most of the Chinese vegetables will be new to the European visitor. “Caotou”, a kind of local trefoil which is fried with Chinese wine, or bitter melon, whose taste will first bewilder you until you get addicted to it!

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The size of some vegetables, such as winter melons, which can measure up to one meter, will make you think you are a character in the story of “Jack and the Giant Beanstalk” .To complete this picture, you will also find fresh pasta, spices and various seeds there, making the visit to a Chinese Food market one of the highlights of your stay in China.

If you want to know more about food markets or Chinese traditions and culture, you can also read 4th February article, Chinese New Year in China or connect me on

Also read Lucie Bousquet in Le Petit Journal de Pekin

Le marché de Donghuamen

 

Here is for Chinese speakers too, a way for me to practice before my exam:-): 

中国菜场的秘密

如果你在中国参观一个菜场的话,你一定会经历一个真正的冒险, 因为菜场食品的颜色,数量和多样性对外国人很不习惯。

平时的中国菜场里面有两个部分。一楼卖 肉和鱼,二楼卖蔬菜。你进去菜场的时候你会享受各种各样的声音,漂亮的颜色和很新鲜的味道。其实西方人都不习惯这样的景象 。还有他们常常对那里的菜很吃惊,因为他们在欧洲不习惯吃猪耳朵或者鹅肚,鸭舌等等。。。卖菜的店员还会建议你加新鲜的调味汁,比方说花生,香菜,辣椒 。你可以看到一个特别传统的食品就是皮蛋。皮蛋是一个用土,灰和盐作成的酱准备的鸡蛋或者鸭蛋。这个方法让蛋变成黑色。外国人一点儿都不习惯吃这样的蛋,其实它和豆腐放在一起时味道很不错!

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在菜场的一楼你可以看到不同的海鲜,比如鳗鱼,墨鱼和螃蟹。那里还有猪肉和鸡肉,因为这两种肉都是在中国非常受欢迎。在二楼你可以找到蔬菜,在欧洲从来没看过的。比如草头,苦瓜或者冬瓜。有时候冬瓜可以超过一米长。你可能会感觉你突然变成一个小矮人了。另外你在菜场的二楼可以买到面条,佐料和豆子。

如果你来中国的话,你一定要参观一个菜场,因为这是一个最好的办法来了解真正的中国文化!

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