It’s 6:45am in Longyan, China. A mid-sized city (about the size of Salt Lake City) in the Fujian Province of China. My wife and I semi-retired here nearly 3 weeks ago. It’s her hometown and I am jealous and wanting to start calling mine as well. We are out for our morning walk and on the way to the park we stop by the Farmers Market to grab a couple of our favorite vegetable bao (steamed buns) and 2 cups of “dau jeurng” (warm soybean milk, a breakfast) for a traditional chinese breakfast.
The morning and evening markets are one of my favorite things about Hong Kong and China. Pretty much each housing development has their own market. While some are indoors and some are in the open air they all have one thing in common. The most amazing produce, breads and meats you will lay your foodie eyes on. This market (which is about a 5 minute walk from our apartment) runs along a street about the size of a football field. The road is narrow, with storefronts, handcart vendors and locals from the neighboring small town who lay their goods on plastic sheets to show their goods. As we enter on a cross street, from about the 50 yard line, to our right there is an older lady selling taro. (she is from a neighboring small town as she has her root vegetables layed out on plastic) Her rusty bike with a basket rigged on the back seat acts as her back drop. The taro is farm fresh with clumps of damp soil stuck to each veggie. To our left is another older lady who has eggs (about 6 different colors so you know they are fresh) and a spinach type vegetable (which I have never seem before) that catches my wife’s eye. I can see childhood memories flash before her as she grabs a stem smells it and tells me to do the same. She agrees to buy 1/2 dozen eggs and one lb of the spinach type veggie. The farm worker pulls out a scale, that would fetch a pretty penny on Antique Roadshow, her and my wife agree on a price. For the eggs and green vegetables we pay 15RMB, or about $2 usd.
We make it about down to the 40 yard line and there is a vendor selling lamb with each piece hanging from a “S” hook attached to an iron bar. There is an entire hind leg, some lean loin meat and what appears to be a piece of liver.
Across the street there is vendor after vendor of fresh produce. Everything from lily root to green onions. All the vegetables are layed out in fashion as if for a photo shoot. Each vendor kneeling down in front of their crops as if presenting it to the judges at the state fair. At the 20 yard line is our ‘end zone’, the reason we are here. My friend who makes the best bao in Longyan (and he will let you know it too) He’s about 5’1, has flour all over his apron and a towel in his hands try to peel the dough off. He apologizes to us for not having “jin bao” (steamed buns with the bottoms slowly cooked in a bit of oil to make them crispy, similar to what you would do with pot stickers in the US) he mentions that his wife was busy this morning so he couldn’t do everything at once. He also provides with our warm soy milk and we head back to midfield to make our way to the park.
We head back to the 50 yard line to make our exit to the park with steaming hot bao and dau jeurng in hand. Thinking we might stop by later tonight to grab some mandarin oranges, dragon lychee and mangosteen for a late night snack. Why not? After all we are just a 5 minute walk from the ultimate farmers market!
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