How green am I that I am always caught by the meat hook when I see the butcher shops and fish mongers in China Town? Part of it comes from the unusual presentations, the really good smell of Asian barbecue or strong and whoa-baby! smack of old fish, or just the piles of meat - turtles -frogs -heads -etc. I admit it, I am curious and want to see more! This is not your local grocer. (Although I must input here that I have become so sensitive to smells that I cannot go into our local market after 2:00 due to the meat counter in the back. It gags me. And in SoCAL, this market's slogan is "It's our meat that made us famous!" The smell is outrageous.)
The overwhelming scent as you pass by most of these markets makes you want barbecue for lunch. Although seeing the whole bird, from beak to toenail, is still unsettling for my immature pallet. I am a tad concerned about the lack of food code grading letters I see at home. I tell myself there are millions of Chinese who feel these restaurants and markets are fine, it's just not familiar to me. Let's think about it, You usually don't see your meal hanging on hooks as you walk into -say Mimi's or Ralph's.Chronicler with me so that she can explain how all these foods are preserved, prepared and all the "why?"s involved. I can't think of how one would flatten a whole chicken. Is there a machine that presses it for hours? I don't know, but I am curious! Behind the chicken is a hook full of dried fish, which I can fathom. They're flat to begin with, shouldn't be too hard. It is difficult to see in the photo, but the table on the right has bits and pieces of FRESH -like directly out of the tank (in the background) fish. A worker was furiously chopping the fish into precise chunks. A woman off to the side of her was quite irritated about the offering she was handed and refused it for another one. Me? I couldn't tell the difference. That's what I am talking about. I am that dull when it comes to these things.
I would have taken whatever the gal gave me and walked out happy. (I need to read more.) Fish head soup. The only recipe I have knowledge of that actually uses a fish head. And yet, here is a box full of them, actually stacks of boxes. I had to wait some time before I could capture this with my camera. These boxes were being depleted quickly. Now seriously, is every family having fish head soup tonight? I doubt it. That means there are more recipes out there I am completely strange to and I am missing out!
This gal was so busy I had to wait about ten minutes before I could get her permission to photograph her at work. I want her to work for me, nothing distracted her, she was a machine! A friendly machine, but nonetheless, she was manic with those fish! I watched her methodically remove specific fish, not just any fish but a particular one and then begin to filet it while still flipping and moving about. There were times she seemed agitated with them for wiggling out of her knife's aim, but she was boss and in the end, something was removed before they were placed on the table for sale.
I wish I could download all of the photos I took while in the markets of ChinaTown, some are so beautiful and others full of sights that are new, at least to me! If you ever have the opportunity I would strongly urge you to spend the morning in this very unique district. You will have the time of your life! The food is great, the atmosphere is electric, and the people are warm, welcoming, and really busy!