Slithery, sauced BBQ squid tentacles; spiral, spicy potato curlicues or icy mango cubes, sprinkled with bits of chewy grass jelly. What better way to enjoy these street food treats than among a throng of thousands of fellow snackers on a clear summer night at North America's largest Night Market in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada? Richmond, a city on the outskirts of Vancouver, boasts a population of 60% immigrants -- the highest percentage of any city in North America. And fully half of Richmond residents identify as Chinese. These numbers seem to hint at good things to sample at their famous night market. Asian night markets are common in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia, to mention only a few spots. Richmond, B.C. actually has 2 competing night markets: the one I visited near the casino and "The Summer Night Market."
This market is open weekend evenings from May 18 - October 8 and estimates 30,000 visitors a night. If you think that sounds like instant crowded chaos, you need to understand that Canada is the capital of politeness. People hold doors open for you and apologize for things that aren’t even their fault. Even the buses display a SORRY sign when they are not in service. The crowd was friendly, civilized and cooperative. And given the overwhelming food choices, fellow-tasters understood there is no way to try everything. Many generously let me photograph their meals, for vicarious eating pleasure.