Friday, November 19, 2010

Wet Markets in Singapore

For those who love cooking or those who have to cook for a living, the wet market is the place. In almost every country (or all countries), there are wet markets of all sizes and catering to different customers.

In Singapore, in the old days, one could identify quickly the established wet markets catering for different communities. Chinatown wet market was mainly for the Chinese, offering fresh produce and catch for the Southern Chinese (like Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, Hakka and more). Tiong Bahru wet market has its unique attraction mainly for the residents of Tiong Bahru, but is well known amongst the Chinese community in Singapore. Geylang Serai wet market caters mainly for the Malay community, offering more spices and other varieties unique to Malay cooking. In Tekka wet market (in Little India), as the location tells, it is one location for the Indian community. Singaporeans with their home kitchen being evolved into the Singaporean fusion cooking will still flock to Tekka Market during festive days to get their favourite ingredients and fresh produce. Mutton must be the best option here. And for the Peranakans, Buah Keluak and the various leaves used for cooking.

As urbanisation took place in Singapore, more wet markets sprung up in the housing estates. And then, supermarkets start to take over. From the single biggest Cold Storage at the Orchard Road, next to the Orchard Road wet market, more Cold Storage appeared. And then, there was Fairprice - created to combat inflation and price increases. And then, Giant came into the scene, and then, Sheng Shiong the latest wet-market style supermarket. And more smaller supermarket chains sprouted too.

In the old days, there were also some specialised markets, probably because of the wholesale business. Some of these were at Beach Road (no more there), Maxwell Road (now a food centre), Lau Pa Sat at Robinson Rd (now a food centre) and Ellenborough Market (no more there).

Each market has its character. And each stall holder has its customers and fans. Watching them trade greetings and haggling over the few cents is interesting. The more colourful ones are when they converse in the local dialects. It will become rare to see the Chinese stall holders explaining in Chinese-styled Malay to the Malay or Indian customer. Or the Indian speaking fluent Hokkien to the bibik!

welcome to the colourful world of wet market. Do share your stories and experiences. And share with the world your favourite wet market!

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