Monday, May 28, 2007

Noodles in the street


Don't shoot me
Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]


The scene:
As we walked down a narrow alley on our way back from the market, I noticed a woman preparing a bowl of noodles on the none-too-clean sidewalk. On-the-street food preparation and sale was pretty common throughout the city, but this particular scene seemed to take the practice to a somewhat more bohemian extreme.

I'm no culinary whiz, but I'll admit that seeing this made my tummy turn a little. Now that I'm safely home and have the time to scan the details of the image, my queasiness only gets worse. I suspect this wouldn't pass any kind of government-sanctioned hygiene standard from back home.

But here's the rub: I wasn't home. When you travel, you eventually need to accept that standards and baselines of behavior and conduct aren't the same from place to place. And just because it seems "dirtier" here doesn't mean that it's wrong. That's the way things go, and you either learn to adjust your own baseline, or you risk going hungry.

The only problem with this image lies in the fact that she saw me pull the camera out of its bag, and covered her face. I finally got this image after we had passed her. I wonder if she thought I was going to bust her.

Your turn: Food from the sidewalk. Please discuss.

22 comments:

Catherine said...

Michele sent me to see more of your view of China. That photo doesn't bother me too much. As long as they are cooked at a high enough temperature. I sometimes think the Western world is getting excessively clean, the prevalence of asthma is often thought to be due to children's immune systems not getting enough practice on real germs. And all the disinfectants etc that we use can't be good for the environment.

craziequeen said...

Hey Carmi...as a H&S officer here in the West that makes me wriggle a bit...
but then, as you say, she doesn't live in the West.
In some African countries, they still paint buildings using slings rather than scaffolding....

Perhaps the question should be turned around - is the West TOO hidebound by health, safety and disinfectant?

cq

Anna said...

That does not look appetizing! Does it? :) I would have done exactly what you did....took the picture and kept walking!

You are brave Carmi....very brave.

utenzi said...

The white socks and brown shoes aspect bothers me more than the noodles an inch above the pavement, Carmi. What was she thinking!!?? LOL

Othr than that, I agree with Catherine. We really do worry way too much about food prep here in the West. Just look at the open market food bizaars in other parts of the world!

Michele sent me over to see you again, Carmi. It's always great to visit!

kenju said...

My stomach jumps around at normal food, Carmi, so I would have probably been heaving to see that bowl of noodles on the street. I cannot tolerate much that I don't cook. The exception to that rule was in Italy last Oct. Nothing there made me ill at all, and I attributed it to the fact that there are no preservatives or chemicals in the food - all is fresh.

colleen said...

Oodles of noodles. Reminds me of cooking at a Grateful Dead concert in the parking lot. I think germs are a little over rated. Keeping our resistance up is more important.

b13 said...

When I was younger I bought street food without a second thought. As I got older... I wonder how much rat and chicken I really had. :( bleagh

Stacy said...

Street food is some of the best food out there. You just have to find the right place. :)

Snaggle Tooth said...

I'd be pretty hungry by the time I got back to the clean continent... (Blah gag)!

Snaggle Tooth said...

I'd be pretty hungry by the time I got back to the clean continent... (Blah gag)!

Anna said...

Utenzi is hilarious!

Bob-kat said...

I suspect as long as it was cooked in boiling water anything nasty would be killed. Though, I certainly wouldn't have eaten from her noodle place. Western sensibilities don't ya know! :)

craziequeen said...

Hi Carmi, just popped back to say thank you for the lovely comment over the weekend at my Q&A fest.
Although it wasn't a question, I felt there was an unspoken question there, so I answered it.

Feel free to pop over and see.

cq

Terri said...

She definitely looks uncomfortable with her picture being taken. You're lucky she wasn't like the Gullah woman in Charleston that I encountered last fall....After snapping her photo, she claimed to "put a curse on me." That'll teach me to be more careful with my lens.
Food vendors...the only ones I partake of are those great hotdogs on the streets of Manhattan and our seafood vendors here on the island during festivals.

Heidi said...

Pass.

(Interesting look into the culture with one photo, though.)

hanulf said...

My brother has a theory when he travels. If they say ''don't drink the water'' he always drinks a little ritght away. Says that introduces his system to the foreign flora so he can build up resistance. And wouldn't you know it, everyone else gets sick but him :)

Thanks so much for the encouraging comment yesterday - how nice to hear!

JAM said...

The pic kind of creeped me out, but I'm surprised at how accepting most of your commenters are. I'm not nearly as picky with food as many people are, but where she is doing this makes me wonder if she dropped some on the ground, would she pick them up and add them back to the batch?

Awareness said...

It never creeped me out when I was younger, but it does now!

I bought a hot italian sausage from a vendor today in Toronto, and even though the city has tough health and safety laws (well, supposedly) it was the first time I wondered if i should be buying something off the street....the though left me as I devoured EVERY single bit!

ChaCha said...

I so love this picture, she is so sweet!

CG said...

It doesn't look appetising but then I agree we can get too hung about food preparation stuff in the west!

AverageMom said...

Some of the best food I've ever eaten was from a sidewalk in South Korea. As long as I didn't look to closely, I loved it! And I never got sick!

leslie said...

No, this photo doesn't bother me. I agree with Catherine, that we tend to go to the extreme with germ killing. I guess because I grew up in a third world country, I saw this stuff all the time when I was a kid.