Tag Archives: Qing Ping Market

Good stuff

13 Oct

My nostrils had died and gone to heaven. Sumptuous chrysanthemum embraced me as I approached the shop where dried flowers sat in open cardboard boxes. The entire store was stacked high with beautifully scented specimens all destined for the teapot.

We had taken a wrong turn and were stumbling down a side street in Guangzhou’s infamous Qing Ping Chinese Herbal Medicine Market (清平中药材市场). After being bombarded by fish scales and giblets, I was glad to find refuge in a tiny shop full of herbal tea. While my husband haggled with the owner, I filled my lungs to the hilt with this glorious perfume.

“You know what this is?” He was obviously very excited about his bargain buy.

“Tea?” He flinched in disgust at my reply.

“Not just any tea. It’s wild chrysanthemum tea from the Kunlun Mountains.” He suddenly reminded me of Maurice Moss from Channel 4’s  The IT Crowd.

“Oh, I see.” I raised my eyebrows and nodded slowly as if his words had triggered some profound enlightenment. Content with my response he then smiled rather smugly to himself.

We eventually made it to the main market. Preserved fruits, roots and plant matter were not the only Chinese herbal medicine on sale. Cats, dogs and snakes were among some of the living foodstuffs on display. I heard there’s a dedicated section of the market where you could even witness your meat being prepared. Did I really fancy watching our dinner being skinned (- alive… optional), butchered and gutted? No, not really. Not even remotely.

It’s been twenty-minutes since he started perusing a stall which sold planks of tree bark alongside various mystery items. I was beginning to wonder if one of the butchers had prepared my husband when he finally emerged from the crowd glowing like a child who has just spent all his pennies on fizzy sherbets. I asked him what he’d bought and as he rummaged through the bag trying to construct explanations in his head, he suddenly realized that I wouldn’t understand everything he wanted to say.

“Good stuff!” He grinned at me triumphantly, swinging the carrier bag as if it was the winning lottery ticket. I almost contemplated asking him for a more detailed explanation but then realized that it would entail a crash course in traditional Chinese medicine. Instead, I just raised my eyebrows and nodded. Slowly.

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