Australian Capital Territory
19 Feb 2017
You get off the plane, you grab your luggage, you leave the terminal, where’s the first place you go? To the market, of course!
Fresh food markets are found in every city, they give you an immediate splash of colour and culture, they make for great photographic subjects, and they get you right into the local tucker.
Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, La Boqueria in Barcelona, Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Charleston Farmers Market, Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar and the sprawling historic bazaar of Tabriz. All fabulous places, feasts for every sense.
Canberra has the Fyshwick Markets, not quite so exotic, but always bustling, colourful, entertaining and full of tasty treats.
Fish, meat, poultry, fruit and vegetable, and liqueur merchants compete with each other, beside cafés and delicatessens.
Built and rebuilt around a central car park, the market forms a U shape, sheltering the merchants and their displays from Canberra’s extremes of weather. Hot and sunny in summer, frigid and windy the rest of the year, the markets are protected by generous eaves from the extremes.
Shoppers patrol the arcades between displays of food and rows of tables. There are few better places to sit down and grab a flat white and a tasty morsel of this or that, and just watch people go buy. Family groups on the weekends, retired folk at all times, workers at lunchtimes stopping in for a pie or pho.
To the market!
We’ve been going to the market for years. Far better than a supermarket for fresh food, we get our supplies for the week ahead, often early on a Saturday for whatever entertaining we plan for the weekend. There’s always a bit of time to browse through the second-hand store, the charity stall, look into the windows of the pet shop, and maybe stalk the aisle of the Asian food shop for some spices or noodles.
And always, time to sit down with a coffee and a couple of treats. Sometimes I have a gourmet pie deserving of the label, but this time we were tempted by a salted caramel cheesecake and a citrus pie. I took a taste of the latter, and thought it a little tart, before demolishing what my wife left me of my delicious baked cheesecake.
Today wasn’t bad. Last week we were facing 40° temperatures, this week, down to the mid-twenties comfort zone. In winter, it can be below freezing, and often damp or windy to boot.
In the extremes, the diners battle over the tables inside, away from the doors, and only the unlucky brave the outer. When it’s clement, it is pleasure made physical to sit and sip, watch and wait.
Every city has a market of some sort. What’s yours?