Xining (ཟི་ལིང) Part II: Street Food Market

Pickles made of garlic, daikon radish, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, and others that the Chinese are so keen in making are on show.

Pickles made of garlic, daikon radish, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, and others are on show.

 

Continuing the topic of street goodies in Xining (ཟི་ལིང, Silung in Tibetan), the capital of Qinghai Province (ཨ༌མདོ, Amdo in Tibetan), the multitude of food markets along the streets are equally rich and interesting (learn more here at Xining (ཟི་ལིང) Part I: Street Food).

One would only need to take a two-minute walk to see 50 different appetizing bites, colorful spices, herbal teas, pickles, yellow mushrooms, dramatic displays of raw yak meat and Tibetan mutton, seafood and many varieties of fresh locally grown produce. So I did just that with my two sisters.

After a stop at a salon, we wandered along Mojia Street in the heart of the city. This market is where I used to pay frequent visits as I had worked nearby for five years. Over a decade has passed, but some of the food vendors I was familiar with are still in business, and at a grander scale. It’s a wonderful feeling to see abundance bless.

And there were spices in every color drawing my mouth wide in smile. I couldn’t help myself from purchasing some and taking them to my parents’ home. I was not worried cultures clash and food flies; this is a place where warring foodies can unite.

A fresh small bag of ground fenugreek leaves for making bread is what I’m bringing to the U.S. from this very walk. I hope I’m not breaking many customs laws and regulations at the airport.

Noodle shops are dotted throughout the city. They make fresh wheat-flour noodles, all kinds of dumpling wrappers, and decorative noodles similar to pasta varieties like Conchigilie, Ditalini, and Lumache. Locals here use these types of fresh noodles like I use Spaghetti from the grocery store in the West.

Noodle shops are dotted throughout the city. They make fresh wheat-flour noodles, all kinds of dumpling wrappers, and decorative noodles similar to pasta varieties like Conchigilie, Ditalini, and Lumache. Locals here use these types of fresh noodles like I use Spaghetti from the grocery store in the West.

 

Adorable little crabs, wrapped and tied artfully. I wondered why. Poor little things.

Adorable little crabs, wrapped and tied artfully. I wondered why. Poor little things.

 

Fish varieties. Most Tibetans opt out of fish for mutton or beef, meaning yak meat, but other ethnic groups fancy fish for alternative. (Tibetans think fish consume many small fish so there are more lives in one fish than a single yak or sheep.)

Fish varieties. Most Tibetans opt out of fish for mutton or beef, meaning yak meat, but other ethnic groups fancy fish for alternative. (Tibetans generally think fish consume many small fish so there are more lives in one fish than a single yak or sheep.)

 

Barley liquor, high in alcohol – My grandmother used make it at home as a young woman. But this is a commercialized version and owned by the Chinese I’m sure. Barley is an ancient grain that has grown on the Tibetan highlands for thousands of years. It is a super food, they say; nutritionally rich, high in fiber, vitamins and other good stuff. (About labels on the liquor jugs: the gold ones refer to the type and price (about $4.25 US dollar a bottle), and the white one is a ‘Now Hiring’ sign that notes, “Hiring salesperson, limited to female, 18-45 years of age…”)

Barley liquor, high in alcohol – My grandmother used make it at home as a young woman. But this is a commercialized version. Barley is an ancient grain that has grown on the Tibetan highlands for thousands of years. It is a super food, they say; nutritionally rich, high in fiber, vitamins and other good stuff. (About labels on the liquor jugs: the gold ones refer to the type and price (about $4.25 US dollar a bottle), and the white one is a ‘Now Hiring’ sign that notes, “Hiring salesperson, limited to female, 18-45 years of age…”)

 

Liver, lung, tripe, and old-fashioned mutton sausage made with sheep intestine casings, are fully cooked. Let’s prepare a meal here. I’m hungry.

Liver, lung, tripe, and old-fashioned mutton sausage made with sheep intestine casings are fully cooked. (Let’s prepare a meal here. I’m hungry.)

 

Yellow mushrooms grow on the Tibetan grasslands

Strung and dried yellow mushrooms. They grow on the Tibetan grassland and fast. When I visited Tsekug with my siblings two weeks ago, none were seen near our tent the night before, but in the morning, after an overnight rainfall, there were mushrooms for the picking. Magical!

 

The hanging carcasses of meat are organic, grass-fed Tibetan mutton (on the left) and yak meat (on the right). Each costs about $5 US dollar per pound.

The hanging carcasses of meat are organic, grass-fed Tibetan mutton (on the left) and yak meat (on the right). Each costs about $5 US dollar per pound.

 

tropical fruit, grapes and peaches

I have absolutely no idea what these things are. Seriously. 🙂

 

Sunflower heads. My brother brought some home, and we enjoyed them raw, fresh just like that, opening the seeds between our teeth like we had always growing up.

Sunflower heads. My brother brought some home, and we enjoyed them raw, fresh just like that, opening the seeds between our teeth like we had always growing up.

 

Two of the signs emphasize these fruits are locally grown. Just as in communities in the West, it seems buying and supporting local businesses has caught on.

Two of the signs emphasize these fruits are locally grown. Just as in communities in the West, it seems buying and supporting local businesses has caught on.

 

Among the nuts, raisins, Goji berries and other herbal concoctions, the brownish one on the back left, is a specialty to the Tibetan plateau called droma or djüma. It is the root of the Argentina anserina (silverweed cinquefoil) that grows on the mountains. They are sweet, more like sweet potatoes in terms of the taste and shape but considerably smaller. Cheers to Tibetan miniature goodness!

Among the nuts, raisins, Goji berries and other herbal concoctions, the brownish one on the back left, is a specialty to the Tibetan plateau called droma or djüma. It is the root of the Argentina anserina (silverweed cinquefoil) that grows on the mountains. They are sweet, more like sweet potatoes in terms of the taste and shape but considerably smaller. Cheers to Tibetan miniature goodness!

 

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6 Responses to Xining (ཟི་ལིང) Part II: Street Food Market

  1. Kris September 12, 2014 at 5:24 AM #

    Very cool! So different from our markets. I love sunflowers and sunflower seeds so I really found that photo interesting.

    • Jolma September 14, 2014 at 10:40 PM #

      Yes, Kris. It is very different from markets in the West. And they are fresh and healthy.

  2. Dania September 12, 2014 at 8:34 AM #

    I really enjoy your blog!! It is colorful, passionate, enticing, well written and fun! I get a sense of the culture, food and colors of your home. I especially enjoy the photos with captions. They help to paint a picture and really give a sense of the outdoor markets and food.

    • Jolma September 13, 2014 at 10:46 PM #

      “It is colorful, passionate, enticing, well written and fun!” I appreciate very much, Dania. You made my day.

  3. Sara Kingsley September 18, 2014 at 7:53 PM #

    It’s great to be able to share your insider’s view of Tibet. Things that most people never get to see! Thanks for that.

  4. Jolma September 18, 2014 at 10:47 PM #

    Thank you for dropping by, Sara.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

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