Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Local markets in Myanmar

There is a spider web of local markets throughout the city of Yangon, turn down a few small side streets and you are bound to find all the native ingredients grown nearby. The prices are almost frighteningly low, and I'm pretty sure I was charged the "Western giant is shopping at my hut!" price.

These markets are where the locals shop. Open air markets on sparsely driven streets. Almost everyone just has a few baskets that they set down on the street. There are a few tents and tin shacks, but mostly those are the houses for the people who work in this market.

There is an occasional tea shop or restaurant or small handcart selling Mohinga, that most ubiquitous of meals.

Sometimes it's just a lady ready to sell you some chickens on the ground.

Maybe it's 15 different kinds of dried and fermented fish!

It's also a dizzying array of fresh organic and local (as in I carried this in on my head local) fruits and vegetables.

But more then anything else, it's the people.

I've always been a bit too shy to take pictures of people, maybe that's why I love taking pictures of food so much. I wish I had captured more images of the people in the markets. They are as important as the food. There was a lady selling oil out of 3 foot tall clay urns, a host of young boys following behind trying to be brave enough to either say something in English or take a surreptitious picture of the western giant. There were spice vendors selling 30 different spices, and rice vendors with dozens of types of rice.

I had the benefit of a kitchen when I stayed with my friends in Myanmar. I took advantage of it, often scouring these markets to find ingredients for different meals. If I lived here, I doubt I would shop anywhere else.

Markets like these are the lifeblood of a culture. The ingredients are what grows in the region, the flavors are what the locals grew up with and the people are those who have devoted their lives, or more likely many generations of their family, to local food. I really wish I had taken more pictures of the people...


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