The Guangyuan Lu Market (a so-called “wet market” — 菜市场, cài shìchǎng) in the French Concession is inside this modern building – a newer location for an old neighborhood institution, Shanghai, China
On one of our last days in Shanghai we organized another small group of friends to do a “food tour” of Shanghai — going behind the scenes with a local expert guide on a Context Travel walking food tour in the French Concession. As their description notes, “It would be remiss to leave the buzzing city of Shanghai without tasting the city’s unique gastronomic delights. As a center of trade, commerce, and migration, Shanghainese cuisine has assimilated the cuisines of nearby regions including Ningbo, Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Shaoxing. As a result, it provides an excellent lens to experience and study Chinese food traditions. During this 3-hour Shanghai Food Tour, we’ll visit a neighborhood Shanghai [wet] market and have lunch in a one of the city’s best and most authentic Shanghainese restaurants, all curated by a veteran food expert.”
This blog post covers our walking tour of the Guangyuan Lu Market (a so-called “wet market” — 菜市场, cài shìchǎng) in the French Concession. Our next blog post, “Eat local: Yuan Yuan Restaurant, Shanghai, China” will showcase the local Shanghainese cuisine at our luncheon with our guide.
Fresh vegetables and greens for sale at a vendor’s stall, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
Rice wine in containers, known as “China Shaoxing” — for the city of Shaoxing, known for its locally produced rice wine; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
“Stocked with all the fresh produce and live animals that hungry Shanghai residents could ever cook up, wet markets are an essential alternative to the brand-name supermarkets vying for their slice of market share in the country with the planet’s largest population. These markets are so named because the floor tends to be wet, thanks to the live fish flopping around and the vendors’ habit of throwing water on the ground to keep the area clean. With dozens of independent stalls in each market, competition is fierce, resulting in low prices (even cheaper if you bargain a bit), beautiful displays of produce, and the freshest fish and fowl to be had, butchered and cleaned right before your eyes. You won’t find shrink-wrapped plastic or expiration dates here.
“Shanghai locals and restaurateurs alike still depend on these independent neighborhood markets for the freshest goods, a bit of social interaction, and the opportunity to keep their bargaining skills sharp. With the unending time, social and economic pressures facing young Chinese professionals, the profile of the average shopper tends to fall squarely in the “well past retired” category here. Cooking is a pastime enjoyed mostly by those with the luxury of time, or carried out dutifully by ayis, salaried ‘aunties’ who find themselves working in the homes of so many Shanghainese families.” — https://culinarybackstreets.com/cities-category/shanghai/2013/shanghai-wet-markets/
Several vendors had a big variety of eggs, including quail eggs (middle upper left), Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
Fresh wheat flour noodles in a large variety of shapes, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
The fermented greens reminded us of the markets in South Korea; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
Pork sausages of a variety of styles and duck confit, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
Dried mushrooms and legumes, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
As we strolled through the market our guide discussed with us some of the fundamental food concepts in China, such as the importance of sharing meals, the emphasis on freshness and vegetables, and the central role of texture in cooking. She also discussed the central role of pork in the Chinese diet and why China is the only country in the world with a strategic pork reserve
Pork is a mainstay protein in Chinese cuisine – it’s so important that China has a strategic pork reserve, comparable to the United States’ strategic petroleum reserve; Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
Rice comes in many varieties and quality levels (with a range of prices, as noted in the labels), Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
- Fresh fish, seafood and eels, Guangyuan Lu Market, Shanghai, China
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