Open-air street market: Chew fearlessly.

“What is that?”

“Bread.”

“How about that?”

“Vegetable.”

I’m learning to stop asking about foods around here, because “bread,” “meat,” and “vegetable” are the most specific responses I’ve come to expect from anyone I ask.

When I was a kid, I was pretty much the pickiest kid on the block–and old habits die hard. I think I need to meditate on this for awhile.

Close eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Ommmm. Embrace the mystery meat. Ommmm. 

Embracing the mystery meat (and bread, and green spinach-y stuff) sometimes comes at a price.

“What is the stuff that looks like cooked mold?”

“Oh, it’s a slimy, flat mushroom they peel off the trees and then boil.”

Why would anyone (anyone?) voluntarily choose to eat a fungus? This I simply don’t understand.

Either way, the open-air street market is The Place To Be on Thursday evenings in Saipan. It’s all there.

Every Thursday, vendors set up their own booths–everything from American BBQ to Asian and local specialties–to cater to the tourists and residents. There are also affordable local/handmade souvenir booths along one stretch of the market space.

It took a few minutes to come to terms with the combination of flies, smoke, and mouth-watering smells. The food is amazing–and cheap. Six choices of meats, rices, tofu, veggies, fish, and innumerable side menu items for just five dollars.

Resolution for next Thursday: Go on an empty stomach. Choose the six most unfamiliar-looking dishes available. Shut up and chew.

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