Marvellous Malaga market

It feels only five minutes since we were last mooching around the colourful central market in Malaga but its actually been years!

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The time our apartment is literally around the corner so we can get up bright and early to check out this lively scene.

No matter how many times I visit markets in Europe and further afield I never fail to be captivated by the variety and quality of products on offer.

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Whether its dried fruit and nuts, local cheeses or piles of perfect fruit and veg, its all so fresh and tempting.

Apart from this. This will never be tempting! I always force myself to venture down the meat aisle just to check out which unfortunate body parts are on display!

A stall holder peers over his loaded stall of local sausages, wines and other delicacies.

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A fishmonger demonstrates his descaling skills while once again I ponder the reason behind the orange vats of fatty meat!

Huge radishes glisten in stacks of glorious pink globes while spring onions the size of fists jostle for space with huge juicy tomatoes.

A last lingering look at some stacks of nuts now before we head off to find more photo subjects!

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Pet cafes and fishy markets

Continuing our tour of our final Japanese city Osaka. We spot a few of the more quirky features of Japanese socialising – pet cafes! In this case all things tiny, fluffy and spiky!

As well as photo perving on yet more perfectly replicated plastic meals and sushi.

This tiny shop is a manga lover’s paradise. Stacked from floor to ceiling with colourful books.

I love the vivid hues of the spines and the somewhat impenetrable plots!

Naturally there are an abundance of novelty items to make the man stick his head through or pose next to . . .

Then it’s onto Kuromon Ichiba which is one of the most well known central food markets in Osaka.

Its undercover stalls are crammed full of all manner of veg, pickles, fish and delicacies.

The market has a total length of close to 600 meters with 170 shops.

Although over half of total sales are for the business market, Kuromon Ichiba is also popular with the general public and definitely with tourists.

As well as fresh ingredients to make your own meals, you can easily pick up lots of ready meals to eat on the go. Made in front of your eyes or scooped out of tempting dishes.

My eye is drawn to these poor little baby octopi on sticks! Their heads look rather too round and that is because they are stuffed with a quails egg!

Considered to be a Japanese snack they are known as takoyaki or octopus balls and they are candied and skewered. Hmmmm . . .

Finally here are a few more fresh crabs and a vendor preparing some snacks.

We’re getting so very close to the end of our trip now . . . I almost can’t bear to finish it.

Although it will almost be a year since we visited it has taken all this time to document it all!!

Animal cake and arcades

You can’t go far in Japan without spotting something utterly adorable like these animal shaped desserts!

Whether it’s curry topped with a teddy bear, rabbit eared icecream or a burger with googly eyes, it has to be kawaii!!

Another utterly Japanese experience are the incredible, multi story gaming temples such as this rainbow coloured Namco highrise.

These meccas to gaming feature multiple floors, all with particular types of games on offer.

Whether you’re a dancing or drumming fanatic to a traditional shoot em upper, there is a game for you in this leviathan of a building!

Be warned however, these gaming palaces are not for the faint hearted. It is an ear splitting, sensory overload.

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Flashing lights, bells and whistles, sirens and more . . it can be a little overwhelming.

Even though it is a beautiful sunny day outside, the place is packed with gamers of all ages, constantly feeding the metal beasts!

Food stalls

As we leave another lovely shrine we pass by rows of hot food vendors, all rolling, flipping, steaming and grilling various snacks and street food.

I’m not sure what they all are. Below the green and white lumps could be Dango, this is a Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko (rice flour) or it could be mochi which is pounded sticky rice.

Below a vendor creates his next batch of Taiyaki – cute fish shaped cakes filled with custard, chocolate or cheese.

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Various meat on sticks are next up in the little food tents. It must be a hot and sweaty job!

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They could be a type of Yakitori – chicken skewers cooked in a savoury sauce or it could be grilled pork belly. Being a veggy means I am not great at meat identification!!

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The meat below could quite possibly be little sparrows on sticks – quite upsetting for the other half who is a real bird lover.

As well as food there are some adorable little fabric creations up for grabs.

Here’s another look at the stall holder creating his little fishy shaped snacks.

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Kitchenware town

On we trot to the next of my key sightseeing spots – Kappabashi Street AKA Kitchenware town!

Easily identified by the humongous chef looming above the entrance to the south entrance, Kappabashi Street is where the restaurant trade does its shopping.

The street is lined with stores selling all the hardware needed by restaurants and other food outlets.

You will find shops full of beautiful dishes and chopsticks through to more utilitarian objects such as pots, pans and cooking utensils.

However I am making a bee line for a few specialist stores that sell the plastic and wax food samples used by  restaurants in their windows.

Look at how ridiculously overjoyed I am! I had been waiting a LONG time to get up close with these plasticiky goodies.

From pizza to icecream, vegetables to cocktails, there are shiny, fake replicas of a plethora of food stuffs.

The attention to detail that goes into each of these mini masterpieces is unreal.  Whether it’s levitating spaghetti wound artfully around a floating fork or tiny, striped chunks of sushi.

Below are some bubbly green cocktails complete with cocktail cherries and a cornucopia of vegetables so realistic you want to take a bite!

Mouth wateringly creamy looking desserts come complete with spoons and man’s best friend makes an unusual appearance.

There’s a ready packaged sushi box , slices of pizza and egg topped noodles.

It’s all starting to make me rather hunrgy!

Kappabashi-dori – the main street’s name is thought to perhaps come from the kappa (raincoats) of nearby residents which were hung out to dry on the bridge.

There are over 170 stores along the 800 metre street and side streets.

If you enjoy a good rootle around kitchenware shops and have a thing for plastic food then its definitely the place to be!

Onwards now to the neon high rises that are so instantly recognisable as Tokyo!

 

Colourful cans

Taking a brief pause from street scenes and quaint harbours I just wanted to simply dedicate a post to one of my favourite things that I kept spotting in Brittany – colourful cans!

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You can find these uniquely branded, vivid tins in Concarneau and other places close by.

They are produced by Conserverie Courtin – a family cannery based in Concarneau and it built its reputation on its signature scallop confit.

They have since expanded their fishy repertoire considerably to include sardines, sea food soups, tuna and more.

But it is their incredible rainbow of labels that I enjoy the most. Like a child has run riot with a paint pot!

You can find out more about Conserverie Courtin on their website here.

First ever Asian markets

My trip to South Vietnam in 2008 marked the start of my love affair with Asia and all its quirky delights. It’s also the first place I encountered some of the cavernous trade markets with their endless produce for sale that I grew to adore.

In Ho Chi Minh the Bin Thay market is a cavernous labyrinth of stalls. It’s not a tourist market, it’s mainly wholesale and all geared towards other traders.

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Ladybird cycle helmets are a cute safety must while dried mushroom and spices spill out in all directions.

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Can Tho riverside markets are a riotous romp of activity, food is so fresh it scuttles out of the baskets after you!

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Rows of conical hatted women chatter as they haggle with tough customers.

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Zingy citrus fruits make your mouth water while tiny mushrooms are weighed up for a punter.

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New and untested produce pique the interest but are not always as tasty as they first appear!

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Above these warty looking things could be Bitter Melon. Also known as Ampalaya or Balsom Pear. Alternatively they might be bitter gourds . .

Here are some tiny pink rambutan. The name comes from the Malay language word for rambut or “hair”, a reference to the numerous hairy protuberances of the fruit.

In Vietnam however it’s called chôm chôm (meaning “messy hair”) due to the spines covering the fruit’s skin

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From the vivid colours of the exotic looking (but rather bland tasting) dragon fruit to the bunches of lemon grass and other herbs it all makes our supermarkets look a little bit tame!!

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How the Italians do markets

My market odyssey continues during various trips throughout Italy.

The magical city of Florence has a wealth of impressive markets including the Central Market. Butchers, fishmongers and delis are on the main floor, while fruit and vegetable sellers are on the top floor,

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Colourful soaps in every colour and perfume beguile the grimy travellers while pasta comes in every shape and size.

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These stacks of crates are bursting at the seams with a tasty looking selection of fruit, veg and herbs.

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Strings of garlic adorn this rustic stall while herbs, goose grease and salad leaves offer us a ideal photo opp.

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Sieves, baskets and booze jostle for position on this compact and crowded little stall.

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Are you bored of piles of food yet? Tough! There’s SOOOOO many markety photos yet to show you  . . .  ho ho ho