Shopping at the Wet Market – Pictorial Essay by Hope

Now that my brother, Zachary, isn’t here, my daddy has taken on the hard work of grocery shopping. Usually he goes to the grocery store once every two weeks and to YiDeLu (the wholesale foreign food market) once a month. But about twice a week he goes to the wet market carrying two large bags and brings them back filled with heavy food.

The wet market contains fresh foods (and some not so fresh foods). Would you like to come with me as I accompany my daddy on his shopping trip?

On the way, we pass many people selling various products. This lady is selling chickens and ducks on her bike.

Selling watermelons…. Across the street you can see a “general store.”

Welcome to our wet market! It is really busy in the mornings because they have all the fresh produce out.

First we arrive at the vegetable stalls which contain beautiful and colorful fresh vegetables.

Top row below: winter melon (a tasteless melon used in Cantonese soups) and Chinese pumpkins. Second row: cabbage, broccoli, parsnips (called “white carrots” here), and zucchini. Third row: Chinese long beans, Chinese okra, and cauliflower.

At the wet market, some of the sellers have their children with them, such as in this picture.

This girl is helping her mom by selling the vegetables. Top row: Hot peppers, Chinese cabbage (bok choy), eggplants, parsnips. Second row: Carrots (which are considerably bigger than American carrots!), zucchini, bitter melon (well-named), and Chinese green vegetable number 84 (That means we don’t know what it is. There are many Chinese green vegetables we have never seen in America). Third row: Cucumbers, long beans, leeks, and celery.

Special variety of corn, garlic, ginger, carrots, and purple sweet potatoes. (I don’t like those very much. They look ok but don’t taste so great!)

We can buy many kinds of fungus, below are a few along with one thing that we don’t know what is. It looks like artichoke but we don’t know. I took this picture because of that and the HUGE mushrooms!

This is Chinese pickled vegetable. It tastes even worse than it smells. One time we hired a new house helper and my mom took her to the wet market to show her what we would and would not like her to cook. Mom explained six times that we did not eat pickled vegetable so not to buy it or bring it to our house to cook it. She told her that if she bought it, we would throw it away because we don’t like it. (We will eat anything when we go to someone else’s house to eat, but at our house we cook things we like better.) The first day the house helper came to our house, she had bought….Chinese pickled vegetable to cook! 

As well as vegetables, we can buy various kinds of eggs, but we don’t because it’s so hot and they’re not refrigerated. When we buy eggs there in the summer one of three is spoiled. They are sold by weight so the price on the sign means 5.4 yuan for 1 jin- a jin is half a kilogram, or 1.1 pounds.

These are century eggs. They were supposed to have been buried for a hundred years. They really STINK!

Of course, it wouldn’t be China if you couldn’t buy rice! We order rice, brown rice, soy sauce, oil, and flour from this lady and it is delivered to our house.

Near the middle, we meet a happy lady selling different kinds of tofu.

Next we come to the fruit section. This sharp spiky fruit is durian, also known as “stinky fruit”. That’s a good name for it, because it’s true. They say that when people eat stinky fruit, they smell just like it for three days, but that doesn’t stop them!

At the bottom right of the picture below, you will see a melon similar to cantaloupe, but it is hami melon. It tastes like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew – less sweet and a little crunchy. Beside it on the left, the red one is dragon fruit. It comes from a cactus and inside it is white with black specks. It tastes a little like kiwi. We like it!

Among other things, on the right you see long yuan, dragons’ eyes, which taste similar to lychee but less sweet and chewier. In the middle are pomegranates.

Our next stop is at the meat stands. This lady is making our hamburger! We can’t buy ground beef at our grocery store so we have to get it here.

Here is Daddy with our bag of ground beef. You can tell how hot it is inside because my dad is sweating through his shirt.

We can also buy a hog’s head. Doesn’t it look delicious?

Or a cow’s udder…

Or little delicious pig’s feet which in this picture look like praying hands!

Hi, I’m Hope. Nice to meet you!

How would you like to have some lovely intestines for dinner? They have a saying in China, “If ET landed in Beijing, they’d put him in a museum. If he landed in Shanghai they would do experiments on him. And if he landed in Guangzhou, they’d eat him!”

Have a heart…

These chickens are waiting for their death sentences.

How about some nice slimy fish?

Here are some frogs and turtles just for you!

The wet market isn’t just a place to buy food but you can also do some stuff such as you can do in a mall in America! It also has a food court!

You could have your hair done…

Or you could get cupping done at this Traditional Chinese Medicine shop! During cupping, they light a cotton ball, stick it inside a glass or bamboo cup, then quickly stick it on a person’s sore spot. The cotton ball fire sucks the air out of the cup, creating a vacuum, which is what makes it suck up your flesh. They leave it on for a few minutes. When they take it off it leaves big round bruises. This is supposed to bring the blood flow to the sore spots to help cure it. I don’t know if it works or not. I’ve never tried it!

You could even have your teeth checked by a dentist!

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey to the wet market. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Til next time!





16 thoughts on “Shopping at the Wet Market – Pictorial Essay by Hope

  1. Hope! I loved your post….thank you so much for sharing all the details and pictures with us. The cow udder, pig’s feet praying and intestines hanging grossed me out!! You have a knack for journaling, keep it up!! Love, Sheila

  2. Wow,wow,and wow.All that food sure did look very interesting.You did a great job putting all that stuff together.The blog on the zoo looked good too.You both are doing a GREAT job! I can’t wait to see more!
    love, Maggie

  3. I loved your post, Hope. It’s very well done and I know Delaney and Claire are going to love it. I am going to make this part of their school one day and surprise them! They will be excited!

  4. Lianan’s not sure she wants to try the hearts or intestines…or cow udders! I know I don’t. Great photos, wonderful essay. We look forward to more posts from our favorite on-the-spot reporter in Guangzhou.

    • Yes, we haven’t tried those either! We’ve SMELLED the intestines cooking, though, and are more convinced than ever that we don’t want to eat them. They are the stinkiest things EVER! Thank you for your comment. We hope you’ll check back later! Love, Hope

  5. Hope~ That was truly fascinating! I’m not sure with all the smells that I’d make it through the wet market. You did an excellent job describing everything so vividly. Thank you!

    • Thank you from Hope, Karen! And I can say that one reason we tend to go in the mornings in the summer is that the smell doesn’t get any better as the day progresses! But I (Pat) do love the Wet Market because it’s so China!

      • Pat- Honestly, I’m not a big fan of tight crowds, either… but the smells ::shaking head:: I loved seeing it all in this photo essay, though! The experiences you are providing for your children are nothing short of amazing! If our house ever sells, we want to do a big trip to China with our girls :)

        • Well, you know if you take that trip we would LOVE to have you stay in our home for as long as possible!

          China smells- this is why Yankee Candles are my very favorite thing to bring back to China. I don’t handle bad smells well!

  6. Hope, I enjoyed finally getting to put a name with the more of the veggies I see in the market. Now I have a pictorial dictionary so I know what to buy and what to stay away from. I enjoyed reading your post.

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