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How to bargain your way through the meat Streets of Saigon

Tan My Market in Saigon is unlike any open air market in the world. Its not the biggest, its not the best, but its the most unique by far. Settled in a ten by ten block set in downtown Saigon, you can smell the market WAY before you’ll ever see it. The biggest sold good is meat, in every beautiful, glorious, fatty, marbled form. Seafood, poultry, pork, and beef are all staples, with every creature on God’s green earth being for sale by the pound. Insanely old Viet ladies can be seen deboning ribs or cleaning livers. Young children as old as five aren’t immune from chopping herbs or bundling green onions. Green coconut vendors specifically elbow themselves around the perimeter of the stalls, selling cold coconut water for those daring to go into the steaming hot meat cauldron of Tan My. The market isn’t pure chaos though, much like the rest of Vietnam, what may appear as unorganized, random noise can be decoded. All of the pho shop owners can be seen going to just one stall, because the woman selling the sliced brisket has the fattiest cuts, perfect for their hot broth. Those going to pick out fresh squid flock to on section, because the fisherman’s catch is especially soft today, ideal for those looking to dry the flesh in a salt cure. One man only sells beef knuckles, another gives buyers a pound of rice for every pound of pork they buy. The intricacy of the people there continues to astonish me, and I don’t think I will ever forget the smell.

 

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