Stopped by the Atlanta Farmers Market at Plaza Fiesta. I had a list – shrimp (hint: all of the Asian markets have great prices on seafood – and they go through a lot of it, so your chances of finding fresh are good), xiao bai tsai (the Mandarin name, ”baby bok choi” in English, “Brassica Pekinensis” in Latin – you get the idea), and sambal oelek (an Indonesian chili paste – I’m into cooking Indonesian lately for some reason).
As with all farmer’s markets, lists quickly become forgotten – but I managed to control myself fairly well and kept to the one thing you can’t avoid here - the Chinese barbecue.
If you like poultry, soy sauce chicken is one of those things that is pretty hard to top - slow cooked, moist, delicate, salty and sweet. It’s kind of like eating good, American barbecue, where you get it all over your face and hands, but you really don’t care. I said hard to top, but there is one thing – and if you know of a place in Atlanta that does this, PLEASE let me know - and that is roast goose. Eating Chinese roast goose was one of those transformative food experiences I had in a little street level dive on Wo On Lane in Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong district. I digress. But until someone throws a bag over that guy in Hong Kong and brings him to Atlanta, we’ll settle for soy sauce chicken.
Did I mention the roast pork? All of the best parts of the pig in one bite: crispy skin, clear silky fat and juicy meat. (Physiology note: vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble. They have to be dissolved in fat to tranport through the walls of your intestines. No fat = vitamin deficiency. I’m not saying eat nothing but fat – just that technically fat in your diet, in the right amount IS -gasp – HEALTHY).
One other note about Asian/international markets. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the “cleanliness” of some markets because of the smell. While you should always use your best judgement (even at Whole Foods), know one thing – when you have hundreds of pounds of dried and fermented fish, squid, octopus, bean curd, cabbage, kelp, fungus, etc. in an enclosed space, well – you’re going to smell it. If you really enjoy ethnic foods, many of these things you’ve already eaten and didn’t know it. I would imagine a metric tonne of black truffles can be pretty ripe as well. If you visit often enough, you won’t even notice it.
Atlanta Farmers Market
4166 Buford Highway
Atlanta, GA 30345