Market Day
0 comment Sunday, July 27, 2014 |
After my chamomile and mint tea experiments, I found myself thinking "I haven't been to the local Whittards in ages." We nearly lost that chain as the recession has closed most of Whittard's stores, but the consumers in Salisbury protested so much to the closure, our store remains, and after a quick explore round yesterday, I realised I still love the place, and really want to make more of an effort to have nice tea in the house (especially after a week of drinking nothing but decaf Typhoo).
So, since today is market day, that will feature in my shopping. I have to say, I love the tradition of going to market. My Tuesday market isn't quite as local as I would like (it's the Charter Market) but I do know just about everyone with a stall, so it's almost a social thing as well. People at market have seen me pregnant and when I was carrying sprog in his Tigger suit on my hip what seems like an age ago. One of the stall sellers died a few years ago and this warranted a moment of silence at his stall for fellow stallholders and customers alike. I barter chai tea mix for a bit of free produce (though I haven't made chai in a long time due to a real lack of supplies). I sometimes barter bottles of homebrew. If my son runs off, everyone knows who he is by now and just points me in the right direction or they keep him occupied till I come, panicked yet relieved as sprog sits happily eating free olives, as the stallholders know to ask to see his autism card and call my mobile.
However, on days like today, sprog is in school and I can take my time; a trip to Whittards, a stroll over to a bakery to inquire about buying some fresh yeast. I can browse a few of the cooking shops for more cooking utensils (my knives are rubbish and I'm still looking for decent ones). I can have a chat with my local chicken farmers as they ask about child and dog, I can get the ubiquitous cheese straws for my son, have another chat and barter some chai tea mix for olives at the Mediterranean stall. I love these days where I can see old ladies with shopping carts saying "coo-ee" to their friends and chattering away, people enjoying their tea in the sun, and the first British strawberries start to appear (my favourite time of the year).
There's a Wed market as well with much more local produce; local lamb, even bison and red elk, which I hadn't tasted since I left the US but the only bison farm is here in wiltshire. That market however has higher prices, and while I desperately try to support local as much as I can, I only do the Wed market when I have a little extra money to treat myself. I have to be careful of this market as well - there are "old guard" farmers who tend to take in meat from poachers (illegal of course, but it happens all the time). The poached meat is almost always spoiled and you'll never know until you open the package and catch a whiff. I managed to get food poisoning from some locally made chorizo and the two birds I bought both went to the dog as they were off on the day of purchase.
Even with drawbacks like this, the market experience is a huge contrast to going to Tesco; bored people, crying children, stressed out, washed out, thinking they're saving money (and gods knows they need to, just like I do). But I don't get it; the market's fruit is loads cheaper than the worst-quality economy buy at the supermarket. The meat is better quality at market, and so less is more - I realised I bought twice the amount of meat at Tesco because I couldn't actually taste anything; it was just texture, not flavour. Everything is better....why shop at the Tesco when the market is hardly 100 yards away? Not that I don't get sucked in as well - I have to go to Tesco for things like dishwasher detergent and bin liners. And then, of course, all the bright and shiny packaging tries to convince you that you also need this, and this, and this, and that too....I don't get as suckered into that kind of thing as I used to, but it is very easy to do.
When I get home, I'll immediately set to work on several recipes I am very keen to try, in between catching up on my laundry and getting together the formulations I want to work on this week. I've got another order for shea butter to make, and I've got to check the weights on some soaps and possibly rewrap and relabel them. All this I intend on doing with a cup of posh tea and possibly one of my fresh-baked creations to fortify the constitution, as it were. Sprog has asked about lamb curry (which he may or may not eat) so I'm on a mission to fulfill my "one new meal a week" obligations to try and introduce him to something other than sausages and chips (and yeah, the sausages are locally made, the chips organic potatoes, but still....).
And off we go!

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