I love wandering amidst outdoor stalls brimming with regional bounty, whether fresh produce or antique knick-knacks. Wherever in the world you may be, local markets are a way to meet locals, delve into local culture, discover local products, and, of course, taste local produce and cuisine. Yes, local is the key word here.
In Bucharest, I meandered through a gorgeous old building full of vendors selling bric-à-brac that ranged from colourful Easter eggs to tarnished lei coins. In Dawson City, Yukon, I sampled freakishly huge kohlrabi (massive due to the short but concentrated growing season) and salivated over piles of morels (now in season!). In Budapest, I admired the craftwork of a blacksmith; in Holland I tried haring or raw herring. In the south of France, I had piping-hot socca at the Antibes market, a traditional Provençal pancake made from chickpea flour and a dish that dates as far back as the late 1800s.
Biting into a fresh, savory socca amidst the buzz of locals purchasing daily ingredients and bundles of flowers is what makes travel so special. You’re literally—and figuratively—taking a bite out of your destination. Any of the myriad items at any French farmers’ market offers a similar experience. Like juicy peaches or crisp, peppery radishes…a revelation and vivid memory of my bike tours in the country—radishes tucked under a bungee cord and peaches warmed by the sun in a front pannier. Partly because of the destination—France!—but also because the dribbly good, crunchy fresh produce is grown mere minutes from the market by independent growers that deliver and sell the food themselves. You can taste the difference.
So, when you travel, hit the market. Wander, wonder and open up wide. Φ