Okay, I confess, I never actually bought a pig at a market, but this change in weather- that crispness in the air (in most North American places it’s called snow, but in Florida it’s just a cool breeze) anyhow, the air has me thinking of markets- and shopping- especially shopping at markets- of course all the Christmas jingles in the air just aid in my active imagination.
I love markets. Any market will do.. In Corfu this time of year the gypsies usually set up some sort of market under plastic tents. The first time it came to town it was such a novelty to have kitchenware, rugs, clothes & toys under one roof (sort of a gypsy Walmart- all inexpensive and made somewhere else). It was a temporary market that was set up each year, usually during a few wet weeks, lots of mud and traffic jams, and then, poof, it was gone for another year. Great for Christmas gifts though.
I outfitted my bedsit in London at Petticoat Lane- pots and pans, a duvet, sheets- I could hardly carry at all. It takes a day through the Lane..My friend Mandy & her mum introduced me to the Eastend Roman Road Market, where clothes were the item of sale, and I lost myself in North London’s Camden Town many Sundays through the warren of dark arches and leather clad, spiked hair Londoners.
Speaking of warrens, Marrakesh was a market maze, becoming more exotic and scary at night, when the square was nothing but a blur of lights and movement. The night market in Bombay (Mumbai) near The Central Station I found soothing in the weird world of India; It reminded me of the gypsy market in Athens- lots of pseudo leather bags/coats, knockoff Gucci and Prada, and clothes I would never wear- not to mention food that only Andrew Zimmerman of Bizarre Foods would dare try. I once saw a cow lift a roti out of a pot of boiling oil in Pushkar, and became deathly ill enjoying a salad at the market in Marrakesh- street food has me wary…uh lassi anyone?
Kathmandu appeared to be one big market. Streets were dedicated to Saree shops, others to housewares, others to tourists.
Flavia of Flavia’s Guesthouse in Palolem (stay there, it’s clean!) directed me to the Saturday market in Cancuna to buy some material. It was a difficult choice, but the whole town was out for market day. A few days later myself and some others rented a taxi to take us to Margoa- another market town- good for spices- saffron, garaum masala.
Markets had become a way of life overseas. I regularly shopped at the vegetable market in Corfu Town. The fishermen have stalls set up at the front end of the market, hawking their sardellas, squid and other fresh catch of the morning, the olive vendors let you try a ripe kalamata olive, and the Russians at the other end, past the leeks, apples and oranges, can set you up with tablecloths and bedsheets.
In Athens the meat market sets up early. I have never needed to buy there, but an acquaintance of mine, who happened to be riding the same Corfu-Athens bus as me (that arrived at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM) introduced me to a restaurant in the heart of the meat market. At that early hour, I am ashamed to admit the name escapes me, but the place was filled with policemen, transvestites and various colorful people who existed in the wee hours- and the food was good!
I could go on for hours over markets- getting my bottom pinched in Istanbul’s Bazaar, haggling down to $2.50 on a silk dress & three shirts in Pushkar, meeting a fellow ex-corfiot in North Finchley’s Sunday market, pots of bubbling food and too much retsina in Monastraki, and just plain pots- lots of them heaped up five foot high, all clay ,in Bhaktapur.
So, to market to market- time to Christmas shop!