Chef Roger Mooking recently traveled to Bangladesh and Bangkok and returned with lots of photos and stories about the incredible food culture. We'll be publishing a new post every Thursday for the next two months, so stay tuned! Without further ado, enjoy Roger's first post below!
On this day pictured above, we were trekking through one of the slum regions of Dhaka city in Bangladesh. On either side of the street were stalls selling fabrics, household supplies, and food like this one. The street was a narrow one, about 8 feet wide and the main traffic area was for pedestrians, rickshaws, bikes, and motorcycles. This was a particularly busy strip as it was near the entrance of what I would consider a market (except for the numerous alleyways attached to the main road that looked non-descript but would lead to communal toilets, communal water pumps, and homes spilling out with hung laundry and children playing). On this day it was raining so the streets were filled with kids playing in the rain and parents running to collect their now wet laundry. The roofs were all made of tin and seemingly slapped together in a veritable patchwork of organized chaos.
Out of all the many stalls that captured my attention, this produce stand stood out. The men are sitting on the floor of a slightly elevated stage, I imagine to let the running water flow below them. Their produce is displayed proudly in handmade baskets sitting on empty crates to make sure they stay dry and don’t spoil. The canopy above the produce is just enough to protect the goods from the rain and to keep the vendors dry.
On offer on this day were cucumber, limes, papaya, greens, and my favorite – chilies. Living in this area, it is not uncommon for a family of 5 to be living in a 12 x 12 foot space for sleeping, cooking, storage and everything else a family needs. Without space or means for refrigeration, the produce stand is a daily ritual to the families of this slum area.
Have you visited similar markets abroad? What were your first impressions of these simple farmers' markets?
by Roger Mooking