Fashionable hats, elegant coats and dazzling jewelry might seem out of place at gritty Silky Road market like this one. But in fact, the raw materials for such luxury goods-as much about style as practicality-were widely traded across Asia along the Silk Road. Merchants brought expensive skins, feathers and gems from afar to marketplaces where eager buyers awaited.
Walk into your local supermarket and you may well find French wines and Japanese pears. Surprisingly, visitors to markets along the ancient Silk Road-long before overnight shipping and refrigeration-could also choose from an array of foreign delicacies. As travelers moved along trade routes, they introduced their own ingredients and recipes to foreign lands. Over time, such exotic edibles became familiar features on local menus.