I used to hate going to the wet market as a child as I remembered how smelly it was when live chickens were kept in cages and slaughtered on site. Thank goodness that practice has long stopped, making a trip to the wet market more enjoyable without the stench in the air. Now, a trip to the wet market at least once a week is a necessity to buy the freshest produce. The relationships with the fishmonger, the butcher, the fruit seller give it a more human touch and it is just not the same when buying from the supermarket.
I love going to different wet markets to check out the produce and each has its own speciality according to the customers from the area. Kandang Kerbau market which is in Little India is best for for mutton, beef and spices. Some of the sellers there have also adapted to the changing tastes of Singaporeans . There is a vegetable stall that sells Western salad leaves like arugula and rocket leaves by weight and plays Italian opera music in the background while another has all you need for Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Geylang Serai Market is another of my favourite market. They have the best supplies of keropok, buah keluak (an Indonesian nut) as well as sea food such as mussels, crabs, prawns and squid. Though cheap, all the stalls do not clean the fish upon purchase unlike other markets.
Most people today would prefer to shop at the supermarket even for fresh produce like fish but for me, it is never quite the same. My mum would always look forward to going to the market where she would meet her neighbours and market vendors. She insisted on going even when she was ill. With the big supermarkets muscling in, I do hope that wet markets will still have a future. Look at the fate of the once ubiquitous neighbourhood provision shops and how they have lost ground to the big supermarkets. Another huge factor - most children of market vendors and even food hawkers are unwilling to take over due to the nature of the job.
Singapore has changed so much in recent years and with modernisation and the influx of many foreigners, we have lost much that was familiar to us. Some things are worth treasuring such as the neighbourhood communities built up over the years at the market.
No Facebook or Twitter, just face to face socialising at its best. I am a mix of both worlds, old enough to remember all these and yet young enough to go a little digitial. But I do hope the tradition of wet markets will continue for years to come.