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Much respect due to the hawkers and vendors

Currently about 5pm, Wednesday, November 30th, in Kuala Lumpur.

Imagine this: pick a dish that you know how to make pretty well. Design and possibly build your own cart for the express purpose of cooking that one item. Buy your ingredients. Stake out your spot. Cook it each day. Hang up your sign amongst dozens or a hundred competitors. Sell it for the thinnest of margins. Refine your recipe. Make a living. Repeat each day.

Or, choose some produce that you'd like to sell. Stake out your spot. Display your produce amongst dozens or a hundred competitors. Sell it for the thinnest of margins. Make a living. Repeat each day.

There's something pretty great in all of that, as hard as it must be to do. I know I couldn't do it.

I spent the morning at Pasar Chow Kit, where fresh produce and meat/chicken/fish are sold. I believe the area is mostly Malay and Indonesian, so the selection is geared accordingly. I wanted to check it out since it's less familiar than the Chinese or Indian products and produce that are fairly well represented in Los Angeles. There are quite a few food stands as well. One stand had little pandan semi-circular puffs which started my day. These were 3 puffs for RM 1.00 or about $0.25US.

The paths are quite narrow, and the by now mostly familiar items seem to be at just about every other stall. Some of the more exotic items were fresh turmeric leaves, torch ginger buds, daun salam (a form of cassia leaf), petai (aka stinkbeans), and a local nut which I believe is buah keluak [corrected]. The quality of fruit appears to be very high, somewhat less so for vegetables. There is no refrigeration or ice for fresh meats or seafood. Water is splashed to keep things glistening. A brief downpour created a short burst of activity as vendors scrambled to cover their fruit and produce.

I admit, it's sometimes hard to watch how meats and fish are handled, but I try to keep an open mind.

I had a Malaysian style rice plate for lunch - I got to choose from about 18 items, including various pickles, fish and chicken dishes (some saucy, some dry), veggie stews, etc, accompanied by fresh sambal. RM5.00 or about $1.25US. [This type of meal is called nasi kampung, which is the Malay style of rice plate. Kampung means village]

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