Getting slightly outside Dali one leaves behind the new "old town" and sees a far more traditional way of life. One of the nearby Bai minority villages runs a market every five days and luckily for me it coincided with our couple of days there. Not one to turn down a wet market we hired a guide and cracked on.
As we went down the cheap route with our guide there was no private car and we used the local bus for transport. Half an hour outside Dali we passed through Xizhou. I'm not sure if this place lays claim to inventing a flatbread called baba or if it's just known for having good baba but it's definitely famed for them. Lining the main street were a number of identical baba sellers, all having nothing more than an umbrella and a big wicker basket full of the delicacies, and luckily for us our bus pulled up alongside them. Notes were passed from hand to hand down the rather crowded bus (a few minutes later we had to get out the bus, get a taxi past a police checkpoint and then get back on the bus once we'd cleared the overloading check) and then baba made the return journey. They came in sweet or salted and we took the salted - an oily, soft, salty, layered flatbread studded with spring onion and with the surprise of some minced pork on top. Whether they invented it or not it was damn fine street food.
I love a good wet market and this was a good one. The food was interesting but reasonably normal - well beside the live piglets and chickens - but the people were amazing. The bright colours, headresses and altitude weathered skin were more reminiscent of the altiplanos in Peru than what I thought of as China. I'll stop here as with any market I think it's better shown off with pictures than words.
There were a few street food stalls at the market and one I had to sample was the local tofu. Sat beneath a muslin cover was a big slab of freshly made tofu, not the usual white but a yellow, a colour that, I was told, comes from the yellow beans it was made from. The texture of the tofu was reasonably fim with some pieces having the added support of a darker skin. To stimulate the tastebuds a bit it was topped with pickled veg, chickpeas and rather a lot of chili. As with most things so far in China it was pretty damn warm.