The Qingping Market is one of China’s most notorious places. In “glittery Guangzhou” it remains a pocket of grit and grime, despite government efforts to clean it up after the SARS scares of pre-2003. Vendors can be found selling everything from family altars to dried deer tendons, and the rows are lined with jars full of starfish, centipedes, scorpions, and countless other delicacies for adventurous eaters.
Set in Canton’s oldest district, it is made up of some of the last precolonial buildings in the city. The aged apartments are several stories high, and the bottom floors are reserved for market stalls. Blankets spread on the dirt road, covered in drying seahorses, legs of unidentifiable creatures, and mushrooms the size of small children are all common sites at Qingping, one of Southern China’s finest remnants of traditional culture.
While the Qingping Market claims to be a medicinal market, it also serves as a culinary underbelly, providing shoppers with “live produce” that consists of animals that many cultures have deemed off-limits. Cages filled with kittens, puppies, turtles, and monkeys are sold for purposes both medicinal and otherwise, including as pets. Exotic ingredients like shark fin and tiger paw are available – if not in the open, down the alley in a darkened corner.
Despite a better understanding of the disastrous effects of using endangered animals as a food source, the Quigping Market remains one of the few places left where some of the world’s taboo cuisine can be found.
Know Before You Go
Cross Canal from Shamian Island, and head towards the new shopping center.