A wet market is a market that sells fresh meat, fish, and other perishable goods such as live fish, shellfish, and frogs. These markets are so named because the floor tends to be wet, thanks to the live fish flopping around and the vendors’ habit of throwing water on the ground to keep the area clean.

Wet markets are a major part of the culinary exploration while living in China. Wandering through old Shanghai neighborhoods in the morning, I am sometimes greeted by the very strong smell and the lively noises of wet markets. Venturing into the small local wet markets that are dotted all around Shanghai is one of the most interesting and also shocking things to do here.

Here I have seen eels moving from bucket to bucket, live turtles trying to escape their plastic prisons and live frogs looking resigned to their fates of becoming someone’s dinner. I can never linger too long at these market stalls as the practice of keeping these animals alive in such conditions, and to sell them as food is quite upsetting for me.