Tomorrow, foodies, is market day. In our little corner of the world, anyhow. Market day is a blessing for several reasons. It is one of the only occasions which gets me out of a bed at a reasonable hour on a Saturday morning, thus freeing up the rest of the day for nice things (like writing). It also seems to have become a regular meeting spot for family and friends: every time I have ever gone to the market on a Saturday I have bumped into at least two or three acquaintances, causing impromptu chats over coffee which never would have taken place otherwise. Market day is one of the only days in the week I can be found wandering around with a basket loaded down with fresh, colorful produce and yet struggle to spend over 10 euros. The sad truth is, that for the rest of the week I am as guilty of purchasing out of season, eye-wateringly expensive fruit and veg from my local supermarket as the next person. But come market day, those nagging doubts about having given a good portion of my monthly income to said supermarket chain have all but disappeared. Doing one’s shopping at the market somehow feels more responsible. There’s no need for the middle man! Give it all to local producers and help the local economy!
Most importantly, though, it is definitely one of the only days in my week when I am prepared to step out of my culinary comfort zone. My favorite instance of this is my partner’s made from scratch Goulash Soup. Every single ingredient is agonized over, from the carrots to the coriander, for what must feel like eternity to my patient partner- but isn’t that half the fun? Supermarkets are so rushed, so hectic- it’s every man for himself there. I swear someone actually elbowed me the other day to get the last baguette. Never would you witness such behavior at the market. Yes, it’s full of people shouting, and yes, they do seem to mysteriously start packing up earlier and earlier each week, but these flaws are more than made up for by the aesthetic advantages of the market going experience: color, texture, smell, and often taste. And all of this minus the chemical overload and migraine inducing neon lights. I enjoy the spontaneity of market day. Much of the time, we will go there just to walk around. We might only come back with some fresh bread and cheese, and for some inexplicable reason a whole cupboard’s worth of fresh herbs and spices. But never ever will you hear the words ‘spaghetti bolognese’ uttered in a tone of desperation, the standard and well-rehearsed answer to the question: ‘what are you in the mood for this evening?’
Did I say last week that convenience kills creativity in the kitchen? Well, the embodiment of this particular modern ailment is the supermarket. I would be willing to bet that the majority of us stick to the same, tired repertoire of about five or six favorite dishes. When you wonder around the market, though, you’re just looking at the bare essentials and this forces you to start thinking up all manner of delectable combinations. Not a packaged sauce or oven pizza in sight. I do know people who are quite frankly terrified by the prospect of having to come up with recipe ideas in this way. But don’t be daunted. Just wonder around and see what appeals. In any case, do try and get to your local market tomorrow. You never know what might inspire you, what you might discover, or at the very least: who you might meet for a spontaneous coffee!
By Zeena Price