Across the highway from the JJ Market is a vast food market — not a super market at all because there’s no detergents, paper towels, light bulbs, and so on: it’s a food market, just food, and lots of it.
And believe it or not, its aisles are wide, maybe 10 feet, allowing plenty of room for the women doing the shopping to stop and talk with each other about whether the melons are ripe, the ﬁsh fresh, the children healthy and good eaters, the mother-in-law tolerable, the husband doing well at work. Imagine a food store that encourages conversations among shoppers!
Then there’s a rice aisle (an aisle
!) because to western eyes there seems to be about a hundred diﬀerent kinds of rice – colors from white, black, and brown to red and orange; shapes from very thin to quite plump; and sizes from short and plump to long and thin. Each stall has small plates with its rice oﬀerings on its table, for shoppers to touch and smell, with big burlap bags bulging with its rices stacked just back of the selling tables.
There are no hygiene police lurking around, either, which means market, while roofed to keep away the sun and rain, is open-sided so the breezes meander through, carrying with them wonderful aromas of fresh foods and cooking food, just like the old days of neighborhood groceries and street markets.
This also means that vendors oﬀer tastes of their oﬀerings, cutting a slice of juicy ripe melon, cracking open a nut, oﬀering a skewer with a bit of chicken cooked over coals drizzled with peanut sauce, peeled leechee nuts in a broad leaf, and so on.
It’s a lush, bustling market full of aromas, textures, shapes and colors — in the manner of the old ways!