Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top of the food chain

Last week I went to Chinatown in search of a fish to photograph. I had two of my girls with me. We walked into a large market on 12th street here in Oakland.

Each customer seemed intent on handling each and every piece of fish laid out on huge beds of ice before making a final selection which invariably turned out to be the initial fish fingered many minutes earlier.

I have observed this phenomenon years ago at Macys. I once saw a woman methodically unfold and examine every shirt on a four by eight foot table stacked 8 shirts high before heading off empty handed.

I guess it is just cultural. I have on more than one occasion come precipitously close to getting my hand slapped for almost making physical contact with a piece of fruit at a Parisian peddler’s stall. I think they would have been only mildly more offended if I had attempted to take a crap on the apples.

At the fish market we decided to have a look around and came upon large tanks filled with all kinds of crustaceans, fish and amphibians. We rounded the corner and saw a squat man with rubber boots all dressed in white beating two giant catfish the size of small dogs to death with a wooden dowel. The girls were fascinated by what they saw. They were not afraid nor were they giddy. They just stared while they held hands.

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