I may have mentioned already that I enjoy wandering through open-air markets. The next bigger town has a market each Saturday and Wednesday: summer and winter, rain or shine, blazing hot or freezing cold. It is one of the bigger ones in Germany, about the size of two or three football fields. There is a mixture of famers, who grow their own things, people that make their own stuff, and sellers, who buy stuff at the wholesale market. There are bakers, butchers, poultry farmers, potato farmers, flower growers, etc. There is stands with Italian specialties, Greek specialties, Turkish specialties, cheese, fish, hand-woven baskets, pickled things (beets, cabbage, cucumbers), and game. There is a guy that sells Italian produce, which his father has driven overnight from Italy (about 8 hours), competing with local farmers. The market opens at 6 in the morning and runs until 14:00, but stands start set-up at 4. Of course, there are stands selling food to eat.
Today, the weather was particularly pleasant, if a bit hot for some. One might call it a nice summer day, despite the season not officially starting for a few weeks. I wanted to buy a fresh chicken for our Sunday lunch from the guy that raises his own. People that must endure grocery store chicken have no idea what they are missing.
Unfortunately, there was too much fresh, seasonal produce to tempt me, so I ended up over-loaded with bags. I got stuck at the Italian vegetable stand. The growing season is a bit further along in Italy, so there were ripe melons, huge artichokes, and giant lemons, added to the usual plethora of tomatoes. They also offer Italian bread, great for making bruscheta. Further along, roses are in season, so one must not rely on Kenya or Dutch greenhouses, and seasonal flowers are too many to choose.
I like to buy from the farmers, as opposed to retailers. One can spot the real ones, because the grandmother and all the family work the stand. The produce is not as uniform as that which comes from the wholesale market (probably from Spain), but the flavor is all the more natural. I also feel an inner need to support a dying breed, because I’ve seen what industrialization of food production has done in the United States.
I must say that we had one of the best lunches in a long time (and we eat well). Perhaps, the market experience enhanced my taste buds. Or, the season provided the pleasure. Lunch in the garden made me realize that humans belong outside, eating fresh things that nature has provided...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.