preserved egg (皮蛋/pídàn) / quail egg (鹌鹑蛋/ānchún dàn) / duck egg (鸭蛋/yādàn)
Most everybody knows broccoli from cauliflower, corn from beans, and carrots from cucumbers, but what about those ... other things? Take a stroll down any open produce market in Chengdu and you're bound to come across some things you don't recognize. From leafy greens to squashes to tubers, the things you won't see in a chain supermarket in Europe or North America are aplenty. We went around the Yulin market, Borat-style, and asked, "What's this?" "And this?" "And this?" until finally we exhausted the patience of every seller.
Naturally, with the number of supermarkets located around the city, it's possible to avoid the open markets entirely. So what makes them worth going to? In our opinion, the lower prices, the freshness of the produce, and the variety on offer are much more inspiring than the expensive lettuce leaves suffocating in supermarket saran wrap. In addition, because the sellers are personally invested in the produce they sell and directly connected to the distributors, they can usually tell you where the vegetable was grown and offer tips on how to cook what you buy. Oftentimes they're locally grown, and "imported" merely means simply from another province in China.
Prices fluctuate from season to season, shop to shop, day to day, and even during the day (items that didn't sell get cheaper at the end of the day), so it makes sense to shop around. Open markets start early in the morning—some sellers start their day at 3 a.m.—and start closing at 6 p.m., although some will stay open longer, especially in the summer. Peak times are, of course, the hour before lunch and dinner.
Some open markets are starting to host organic vendors, and with the growing popularity of "organic" and "green" foods among Chinese consumers, such vendors will probably continue to grow in number.
Finally, what we refer to as the "vegetable markets" are actually called "comprehensive markets" in Chinese because they are home not only to fruit, vegetable, meat, and dry-goods sellers, but they also sell all the items for daily and household use—dishes, kitchen and bathroom supplies, cleaning items, small furniture, shoes and even clothes. So instead of buying all of your necessary goods at the supermarket, you could do like the days of yore and buy them all at the open market. Or you could do like most and split your patronage among them all.
Due to regional and even personal differences among nomenclature, pinning down one name for each item proved to be a challenge—in both English and Chinese. Where appropriate, we've listed more than one. We've grouped items as we thought logical; these are by no means scientific categories. Repeated items appear several times in the photos (regional variants).
A soya bean (黄豆/huángdòu) B mung bean (绿豆/lǜdòu) C red date (红枣/hóng zǎo) D raw peanuts (生花生/shēng huāshēng) E Dermason (white kidney) bean (白肾豆/báishèndòu) F white rice (大米/dàmǐ) G red and green beans (红绿豆/hóng lǜ dòu) H white bean (白豆/báidòu) I black bean (黑豆/hēidòu) J silver ear fungus (dried) (银耳/yíněr) K black-eyed pea(黑眼豆/hēiyǎndòu) L rock sugar (冰糖/bīngtáng) M fava/broad bean (胡豆/húdòu/蚕豆/cándòu) N black sesame (黑芝麻/hēi zhīmá) O black glutinous rice (黑糯米/hēi nuòmǐ) P red bean (红豆/hóngdòu) Q black bean (黑豆/hēidòu) R pinto bean (黑白斑豆/hēibái bāndòu) S white granulated sugar (白糖/báitáng) T fava/broad bean (胡豆/húdòu/蚕豆/ cándòu) U millet (小米/xiǎomǐ) V corn (玉米 /yúmǐ) W sago (西米/ximǐ) X brown rice (糙米/cāomǐ) Y wheat (小麦/xiǎomài) 1 brown sugar (红糖/hóngtáng) 2 corn flour (玉米粉/yúmǐfěn) 3 wheat flour (小麦粉/xiǎomàifěn) 4 dumpling flour (面粉/miànfěn)