Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's the circle of life!

This morning I went to the public market with my mum in search for some fresh vegetables and fish for lunch. Having lived in Taiwan for the first decade of my life, I still can't be 100% comfortable visiting these markets. It's not really the flesh that bothers me. The only difference with that is that in supermarkets, the pieces of meat are packaged. What bothers me is that behind the stands with pieces of meat on display with the occasional flies hovering above stands a perfectly elegant looking woman from the waist up holding a really really sharp knife. Behind her are lively chickens and turkeys in cages, sometimes making the most unbearable sounds. Behind these cages are two huge machines: one for boiling the animal to death and the other to pluck all the feathers off. Yes... elegant looking woman indeed. 

Beside the meat stand is the fish stand. The fish just lie there on the stand and you can see them breathing or suffering. More than once in awhile, they freak out and jump up and down, spattering the customers with fishy water. I stand about 2 meters back from the stand. My mum laughs at me, but whatever, I like to keep my clothes clean. So eventually you take your pick out of the who knows how many fish on the stand. The man holding the knife grabs the fish, sometimes he bang its head for a bit until it's half dead or he just starts scraping off the scales while it's still alive. He then makes one sharp slit under the head and jabs his knife inside the fish to get all the guts out. He briefly rinses the fish in a bowl of water that can hardly be called clean. Finally he puts your order in a plastic bag and takes your money. This entire process probably takes under 5 minutes. 

The most disturbing of all is that the stands across from these meat and fish stands are selling bread and other baked goods. Next to this, a stand selling really cheap clothes or candies. I will never, not that I have ever done this, buy bread at public markets in Taiwan (not that there's anything wrong with it). 

Despite all of this, the meat and fish that you get from public markets like these are probably the freshest ones you'll get. At the same time, I can't wait to shop for food in an air-conditioned environment and still get really fresh meat and seafood. 

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