One thing I am really intent on doing while we are living in Malaysia is to learn how to cook and create Asian cuisine. I already use a lot of the herbs, spices and flavours of Thai and Vietnamese in particular but would love to learn how to balance flavours and become more knowledgeable on the produce.
I will take some classes but I thought the first step would be to go check out the wet markets, these are undercover and divided into fresh produce, meat and fish amongst other paraphernalia. I had read about a few before venturing out and decided Chow Kit was the big one worth exploring. Me and James went there at the weekend and it was a heady, cultural and sensory experience.
I'll set the scene.. It is about 35 degrees, as humid as you can imagine and the smell is an unusual mixture of produce, people and a faint scent of something burning. People are yelling in Malay, Chinese and all sorts of languages we don't understand so we imagine they are making fun of the tourists and laughing at how they will charge us more. Even if they do, it is the cheapest place I have ever shopped.
We wander through the lanes that intertwine like a maze, often not knowing where we will end up. one minute you are scurrying down cramped alleyways then it opens up to a big open market. The produce comes straight from the farms and is covered in mud, the fish section is just like an old fashioned mongers with white tiled areas and ice everywhere. [It was at this point my feet were getting splashed and I wasn't breathing due to the smell!] Such a rookie.
It was fabulous, frightening and fun all at the same time. I won't lie, there were a few confronting things such as cow's heads and parts of animals that you don't usually see but it is a great experience and a cheap and local way to shop.
For anyone who used to go to France as a kid, it reminded me of the big markets they have out in the open that smelled of cheese and fish. Except an Asian version with the humidity of the equator swirling around you and less garlic on string.
The colours were intense and it was a joy to photograph, I'd like to go back with my SLR and take some better shots but these give a pretty good impression of the atmosphere.
Have a great weekend!