Food can’t get fresher than this in Hong Kong.
The buyer inspects a chicken and then picks one which is healthy, energetic and has bright feathers. The butcher wastes no time in weighing the chicken to determine a price. The rest, most people will say, it should be history and the focus should be a happy meal on the table. (I wouldn’t want to go into more details, but let’s just say most butchers try to make it quick and painless for the chicken by heading directly for its jugular vein.)
It’s a sight that I can’t help but squirmed at when I walk through the wet market. Usually, moving on to next stall does not help – they are either skinning a frog alive or cutting a live fish apart (after hitting it semi-conscious with a bat). Not any better, isn’t it? The shop owners do not seem to be bothered at all. Instead, they flash their cheeky smiles, exuding confidence for taking up a role that most people would not dare to.
If you ask anyone on the street, the advice is always to shop fresh. This is why shopping through the wet market is still very popular with the locals in Hong Kong. The variety of food available is astonishing and eye-opening. Nothing goes to waste, from a pig’s heart and liver to a fish’s head and bladder. You name it, and even if you don’t, you get it. The dried food section has its own mix – dried fish, dried sea cucumber, the contentious shark’s fins, thousand-year old eggs – well erm… just to name a few.
You can’t be afraid of blood in the wet market. Some butchers deliberately smear them onto the carcasses to make them look fresher. Others spray water on fruits and vegetables for similar purpose. The locals are not willing to be fooled, as they battle their way through by pulling out the “loyal customer” card and displaying their street savviness with their tip-top bargaining skills.
However intimidating it seems, the wet market is a sight not to be missed. After all, where else can you get fresh food and a good dose of local’s flavour in Hong Kong?