The walk to the central market of Xizhou was maybe six or eight blocks but full of traditional artisanal skilled labor — keeping the embroidery art alive, preparing wares for the local market, and educating the passing traveler — and striking a balance between tourist show and subsistence — but as we turned the corner into the market this was a place for the local…a place filled with color, sounds, smells, and experiences outside the bounds of the traveler, but perfectly at home for the villagers, workers and homemakers who come here daily to pick up their supplies for the evening meal, a quick hot lunch or to fill their larder.
Fresh seafood – most from nearby Erhai Lake
This was our first up close encounter with the diverse population of the area, particularly the Bai and the Yi people. Being close to the people of Southeast Asia and Tibet, as well as having had influences from the Mongol rule of China, as well as the influx of the “traditional” Han Chinese people we could start to see the diversity in the faces, skin tones, as well as the obvious differences in dress.
Brown sugar cones and “rose sugar” crystals and white sugar crystals. The rose sugar is sugar infused and blended with rose petals, and we were told that it is often a home remedy for young women suffering PMS symptoms to suck on the crystals to ease their discomfort.
Everything but the kitchen sink!
Vegetables and spices…some familiar and some not — like the “infamous” citron pepper, which I later learned I did NOT like, but that locals enjoy flavoring their foods with! This peppercorn is used in primitive dentistry to numb the mouth, so imagine my shock, nay PANIC, when my mouth became numb and had an unusual bitter/medicinal flavor in it while eating my dinner one night!!! It is apparently a favorite with the locals…no thank you! I spent much of my remaining time picking through my meals making sure I didn’t encounter these potent little peppercorns in my mouth again.
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Random street scenes on our way through the market area
Xizhou’s famous street food — a Xizhou Ba-ba — a garlic and pork pancake like bread cooked over coals streetside and very yummy!
More random beauty on our way back to the Linden Centre for lunch
Lunch, a trip to Lake Erhai and a little history in the next installment of “Scenes from China”….stay tuned!