To the north, where we wandered today, is the street market, where the locals shop for groceries. At first it looked like the average packed alley, with laundry hanging everywhere, doorways full of old tires, omnipresent baozi and noodle stands, old men sleeping in lounge chairs, and ice cream coolers steaming mist into the air. Then, we came to a crossroads. Julian asked me, “Left, right, or straight?” Neither of us were anticipating the impact my 'straight' would have, mostly on him, as we continued walking and found ourselves in the center of piles of cows' and pigs' hooves, plucked chickens split down the middle showing their glistening organs, mesh bags of futilely leaping green frogs, people picking up these frogs by the legs and killing them by bashing their heads on wooden blocks before sectioning them for dinner, live fish flopping off their mats onto the sidewalk, people peeling the shells off still struggling turtles, snakes coiled in boxes, cages packed full of ruffled chickens and ducks, boxes of claw-waving crayfish, oysters lined up on cardboard, and, perhaps the least shocking on paper but the most unavoidable to our senses, sheets and sheets of drying hot peppers, hot peppers hanging from clothes hangers even, lending the air a thick, oily, spicy snap that caught in our throats.
Julian, the vegetarian, was properly traumatized by this whole scene, muttering 'Hooves! Feathers! Frog torture! Get me out of here!' and I kept expecting to feel something gutturally, but never did. In fact, I stopped to buy an ice cream bar right across the road from a table piled high with intestines and when I asked Julian what he wanted he sort of looked at me in disbelief before saying, like it should have been obvious, that his appetite had been kind, sorta culled. I have an intellectual aversion to the mistreatment of animals and I certainly wish that nobody was, in particular, peeling shells from live turtles, allowing fish to suffocate on the sidewalk, keeping way too many ducks in one cage, or cracking crayfish exoskeletons without boiling them first. But it didn't make me... not hungry. I am probably (certainly) a terrible person, but in my defense (as though there could possibly be one), my viscera's apathy is not unusual.