Going to a farmer’s market in one of the highlights of my week in the summertime. Farmer’s markets are not always easy to get to in NYC, even though they set them up everywhere. For Manhattan and Brooklyn, Saturday is the main day for most locations. For us, Saturdays are mostly spent away from the city, this making it difficult for a market visit to be a regular part of life. Some markets stay open during the week for post-work shoppers, but those are generally not very convenient on our commutes. When I do get to go shop, I get very excited. Annoyingly so. (Ask Matt. I usually talk about how wooooonderful the tomatoes look and how amaaaazing the basil smells.) A trip to the market becomes a fixture of my week, an event I plan for: what bags should I bring, what time should i go, who should I buy from, and what should I cook afterwards. A frenzy of questions.
Thus, it’s only natural that on The Trip, a market would also be fixture as well. Especially since the markets abroad would contain mountains of exciting and mysterious fruits and vegetables, food stalls, and people. I dragged Matt to every food market we could find in almost every country we visited. Some were indoors, some were wet markets (where I left Matt outside so as not to subject him to fish smell), some were outdoor, some were tiny, on sidewalks and street corners. These were some of my favorites.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina had a bundle of street markets, but only one stand out farmer’s market. The Mercado de San Telmo is both an antique market and a farmers market and sits only steps from Plaza Dorrego in the heart of the historic district of San Telmo. The vendors here carried mountains of vegetables which luckily, I could use back in our Palermo Viejo apartment to cook dinners.
Many vendors set up there stalls on sidewalks and on the pedestrian malls around the parks. They sold all kinds of vegetables as well as Chilean crafts. Unfortunately, we had no use for these amazingly large artichokes, though I stared at them enough that the vendor gave me an evil stare.
The spice souq was like a labyrinth of herbs, whole and ground spices, rock salts, and dried flowers. Unfortunately we were again at a point in the trip where piles of spices would do me no good, however I couldnt help but wander the passageways wide eyed at the variety of choices and mixture of smells and colors. These photos cannot do justice to the brightness of the colors and fury of scents.
Farmers pushed carts through town, offering the day’s freshest vegetables to shop owners, restaurant owners, and townspeople. The green-rinded tangerines were a sweet afternoon snack. Our favorite Tibetan restaurant always grabbed the freshest looks sweet potatoes and tomatoes when the carts came by during our breakfast stop.
The Beringharjo market offered up many floors of sellers, including several rooms just for fresh-from-the-farm produce, rice, prawn crackers, and other grains. This market, though on the main thoroughfare of shopping, malls, and hotels, managed to maintain a very local feel. No one spoke English and we might have only seen a few other daring travelers in the whole market. It was swelteringly hot as we walked around the two cavernous buildings, going from batik market, to food market, to electronics fair, to lunch stalls, to shops with gowns, toolsheds, and piles of kitchen wares.
Zhuhai and Hong Kong, China
In China there are markets everywhere – on the sidewalks, on the streets, in pushcarts, in the alleyways. There’s hardly a need for a big farmers market since food is everywhere. We only spent time in the cities since we had to be near western food, so I’m not sure I can speak to the market style in the countryside. There were fruits stands and meat and fish markets and vegetable carts everywhere.
In Pai, a small town near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, there is a whole section of the city blocked off for the farmer’s market. At nighttime, the entire city turns into a street market, but during the day, market space is blocked off for farmers to come in to town and sell their crops. Lemongrass, limes, coriander, chilis, squashes, roots…. This was one of my favorite markets because of the atmosphere. Umbrellas lined the side of the street, where sellers set up tables and sheets covered in food. People walked slowly up and down the market comparing and conversing.
Nelson, New Zealand
The farmer’s market that most resembled one of my home markets was the one in Nelson, New Zealand. And not shockingly as the land and cultures are similar. This market, though dotted with produce and flowers and plants, was also heavy with cheese mongers, meat producers, dairy farms, coffee roasters, trinket booths, and snack stalls. We spent time here sipping coffee, wandering around the shops and eating whatever looked good. As we were cooking at our campsites every night, we bought some vegetables so eat, but enjoyed the people and the music most of all.
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Do you have a favorite market from your travels?
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