Hong Kong: Chun Yeung Market

I’m back in the UK now after a month-long trip to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.   As an antidote to jetlag and the grey British winter, I’m posting these colourful photos from Hong Kong markets.

Peppers and Veg

My first stop, the source of those red chillies, was the wet market on Chun Yeung Street, near North Point on Hong Kong Island.

Chun Yeung Street sign

The whole street is double-lined with market stalls and shops selling meat, fish and seafood, Chinese medicine, clothes, and household items.  And of course, a huge range of tropical fruit and vegetables, like these shiny red wax apples.

Wax apples

And Chinese cabbages.  These bring back memories of my time in north-east China.  Every winter, people in Dalian would buy these cabbages, and then store them in the open air, on the roof of their apartment buildings.  No fridge or freezer needed when the winter air is cold and dry enough.

Cabbages

Back in Hong Kong, in another market near Graham Street, I found these pomelos.  I miss these – sour grapefruits are no substitute.  I wonder if I can buy them somewhere in London.

pomelos

There will be more posts from my holiday.  If they appear at odd hours, blame the jetlag.

Fruits of the Drumlin

It’s blackberry-picking time again on the drumlin.

blackberries on wood

Fields on drumlins tend to be small, and separated by hedgerows, which means that September brings free berries for anyone prepared to brave the dangers of nettle stings, red stained-fingers, and skin pricked by bramble thorns.  Here are some of the berries I picked last week.

blackberries in blue bowl on grass

Here’s something much gentler, harvested without pain – sweet pea in my aunt and uncle’s garden, still fragrant and beautiful even on a rainy day.

Sweet pea after rain

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Banana Stems

We harvested the bananas in the garden last Friday.  I will disappoint readers of my earlier post by admitting that I did not cook the banana flower – my excuse is that the flower was too small. Here is a photo of one of the leaves instead.abstract banana leaf

I thought we might need steps to reach the bananas, but we didn’t – the branches of the banana tree can be bent down to ground level by a couple of strong gardeners. Gardener Shankar harvested the bananas.  Then he got to work demolishing the entire tree with a sickle just like the tools from this post.

sickle cutting banana branch

Then we took up Gardener Shankar’s suggestion of consigning the banana fruit to a wholesale banana shop for quick ripening. Last year we made our own storage box in the garage, and waited impatiently for two weeks for the bananas to ripen.   I don’t know what the shop will do, apart from store our fruit in a really hot room. Maybe they will just swap them for some ripe fruit?

banana fringe
As well as the fruit, we were harvesting the banana stem.  Our driver told us that he believed banana stems to have great health benefits in preventing and treating kidney stones.
stalk cross-section
The outer layers of the stem were stripped away, and the sickle was put to use again.
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cross section centre of stalk
We weren’t impressed with our stem – like the flower it was too small.  But Dayalan went home with some pieces for cooking anyway.
centre of stalks

How many Coconuts can you Carry on A Bicycle?

The one bike accessory that is essential in Bangalore is a string of tender coconuts.  The sickle on the handlebar is an optional extra.

coconuts on bike

coconut bike sickle

One little detail caught my eye about the next bike – it is propped up on a stand. My own bike leans to the side when its stand is in use, but this one is sitting upright.  Am I naive in only knowing one kind of bike stand until now?

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bike stand close up

I guess it takes a strong upright stand to hold a bike steady when it is loaded with plastic containers.

bike water bottlesIf you do overload your bike, you can get it repaired at one of these places – Roadside Bicycle Repairs. But note the perceptive comment at the end of that post from B Gourley about the speed at which bicycles are being replaced by motorbikes on the streets of Bangalore.

Taking Pulses

We have a new supermarket in the Whitefield suburb of Bangalore – D-Mart.

Like all the big Bangalore shops, D-Mart is strict about security. On my first visit I was carrying only a small handbag and a camera bag, but a security guard fastened them both shut using plastic ties.  Which is fair enough, because I could easily have scooped some lentils into my purse and slipped a few chillies down the side of the camera bag.  And it explains why the woman in pink in the first photo isn’t carrying any bag or purse or means of payment for her trolley full of shopping.
D-Mart
Anyway, today’s photos come from the iPhone that escaped the security crackdown.

Indian supermarkets are full of lentils and other pulses – moong dal, tur dal, channa dal, etc. D-Mart has a great big bin where you can help yourself to as many lentils as you like.

dal in Dmart

For contrast, here is a photo of the pulses sold in a London supermarket.  I was actually surprised and impressed by the range of the pulses; but it is funny that they are only available in small packets.

Waitrose lentils one shelf

Back in D-Mart, I liked the reflection of these dried chillies in the metal bin.

red chillies in DMart

In D-Mart you can buy rice by the sackful. My London branch of Waitrose sold nothing bigger than 1kg.

rice in Dmart
On the other hand, Waitrose didn’t tie up my bag, or station a guard at the exit to check my receipt.

Dussehra – the Prequel

What do you do with a sackful of flowers in Bangalore this week?  Celebrate the festival of Dussehra (also called Dasara).

tumbling flowers

At this festival people honour the tools that they use in your home or at work. Anything from a sewing machine to a tractor to a laptop, even a camera.

My photos of last year’s Dussehra appear in a series of three blogposts, starting here.

This year, our driver is planning a puja for the vehicles on Friday, so I don’t have photos of our own ceremony yet.   Instead, here are the supplies that you need for the puja, on sale from roadside vendors on Whitefield Main Road.

If you are doing a puja for the car, you need banana leaves to decorate the front of the vehicle.

banana leaves

Then you need offerings of fruit and leaves.

Fruit

leaves for puja

And pumpkins to be smashed.

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This ceremony means a lot to our Hindu driver; and to me it is a symbol of the anniversary of my husband’s job in Bangalore, and of our driver working for us.

Banana Flowers

We have bananas in the garden again.  One banana tree gave us fruit in January, as reported here and here.  A second tree is now holding green bananas and a banana flower. This is how they looked on Wednesday.

Bananas in garden with flower

These bananas look smaller than January’s crop.

Bananas closeup

For the first time in my life, I have paid attention to the banana flower.

Banana flower in our garden

Banana flowers are edible – here are some on sale in Bangalore’s Hypercity supermarket.

Hypercity banana flowers

They cost 20 rupees per kilo. At least they did two months ago. I took this photo before our own banana flower appeared, and food prices have been rising in India.

Hypercity banana flower price

P.S. For anyone interested in ladybirds, I updated my post “Is there any country that doesn’t have ladybirds” this week, after spotting something spotty in the garden.