On the trail of the chilli in Yunnan, going along the Tea Horse Road (after a touristy fashion), the colleague who was accompanying me and I started out as usual: in Kunming.

“Wet” Markets…

There was not much time, but at least I wanted to have gone past one of its better-known and bigger “wet” markets – which means nothing but a market for fresh produce.

Officially, a market like this is even known as a nongmao shichang (农贸市场), a – wait for it! – farmer’s (products) market…

Zhuanxing Market

Kunming’s Zhuanxing market is in a somewhat curious place in town – well, not exactly in its center, but then, where should a farmer’s market be?

Of course, this is not a Union Square Greenmarket that’s a (relatively) new fashion, it’s just a part of life. Hence, it is where people live and there was room for it.

Still, it’s a bit strange to be in some almost-random part of town as a visitor, and then to turn off the ordinary road into a non-descript passageway – only to end up in this paradise of produce.

The weather was not exactly the best, either, but the market did not disappoint.

Insights and Looks

Right then and there, I immediately found some insight into the diversity of vegetables and fungi of Yunnan, some interesting and spiced-up food – and the chilli that I have most come to associate with Yunnan, it’s “wrinkled skin chilli” zhoupi lajiao.

Let’s take a look!

Produce Paradise

This diversity in China, and especially in Yunnan, is just mind-blowing.

Quite a few bits of the produce are very familiar – and then there are some I only know because I have enough China experience.

Some are so local and peculiar, I have hardly any idea what they are.

Ferns are used. Mushrooms grow and are used in abundance.

Poultry, Meat, and Pickles

Of course, there are dead animals on a market like this… and the black chicken looks particularly dinosaur-ish ;)

There is also a plethora of pickles…

Zhoupi Lajiao

… and that includes the zhoupi lajiao:

This “wrinkled-skin chilli” is also being sold fresh.

Together with garlic scapes and fresh ginger and other chilli.

This time around, it was interesting. There was not only the green middle-sized zhoupi lajiao I had seen before, there were different lengths and, uhm, girths – and also red ones.

Although, coming to think about it, it always seems to be the ripe red zhoupi lajiao that is pickled.

Doufu (Tofu)

Doufu (tofu) is something I always find myself giving a closer look. The diversity of this simple soy one finds in China is just astounding!

Spicy Douhua Mixian

In the middle of all that, we found breakfast – and an interesting one.

Spicy douhua (“tofu flower”) rice noodles, mixing together the pudding-like fresh tofu, rice noodles, some toppings, and a spicy chilli oil.

They are served chilli at the bottom, all else on top, to be mixed:

An odd but surprisingly good combination of textures and flavors, I found. Also odd for breakfast, but nourishing and probably healthy: a bowl of fermented rice with small tangyuan rice balls.

And on we went, up along the Tea Horse Road…