At The Market


Chris (Ordinary Gweilo) and Paul (The Valley) have noted that they're not always trusted to go to the market on behalf of their wives/families.


Just as I was heading out the door for a walk this morning, Mrs. "The Valley" asked me to pick up some fruit on the way back. Normally, she wouldn't dream of letting an ignorant foreigner choose the fruit as there'd be issues with being overcharged and of being given the crappy produce.

The simple solution to this dilemma is to accompany your wife to the market for many years in a row, so that all your regular suppliers know you as so and so's husband. After doing this for a while, and especially if your wife is extremely fussy about the quality of the vegetables/fish/meat she buys, the various stall owners will be extremely keen to make sure that you get the good stuff.

It's quite common, for example, for Ah-Seng in the frozen meat shop to get out the good new Zealand lamb ribs from the freezer at the back, and not the half-defrosted stuff at the front; or to insist on the good lean Australian steaks rather than the 90% fat ones they have on display. And, of course, he always insists I need a another slab of beer. You can never have too many slabs of beer.

or there's the gentleman in our local fish shop who, when another customer said he should just give me the dead fish because I wouldn't know any better, said "Choi! He's buying a fish to steam for his children! You can't feed children dead fish!"

And he's right, of course. If you're going to eat seafood at all, it should be as fresh as possible. I remember as a boy catching mackerel and trout in Ireland, then cleaning them and cooking them straight away. There's nothing that tastes as good as a fish you caught and cleaned yourself half an hour ago fried in a little butter, or just dropped on the barbecue.

More than one guest has been surprised at a hotpot by the bowl full of live shrimp. Chinese guests, because they expect that gwailos will only eat large pieces of cow, and Gwailos because they're not used to their dinner trying to escape.

When buying seafood for dinner, the food isn't fresh unless it starts twitching on the way home.


Yess... I have been told in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to choose oranges. Only women can do this, apparently. What a puzzling world we live in.

Ah now, this is a different thing. There are oranges for eating, and there are oranges for Bai San or making offerings to the gods. Oranges for Bai San must be very round and pleasing to some unknown sense that only Chinese women possess. And probably the deity in question too, of course. Also, if the Joss sticks aren't inserted into the oranges during the course of worship/fortune seeking, the oranges may be eaten afterwards. I think the reasoning is that the deity has already had the divine portion of the orange, and we're just having the left overs.

My suggestions that we should offer Wong Tai Sin a nice slab of beer always fall on deaf ears, though.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on February 17, 2006 9:00 AM.

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