I’ve always loved Farmer’s Markets. Originally from Bury, the renowned ‘Bury Market’ is firmly in my veins, having visited there every week when I was little whilst my Mum and Gran would buy their foodstuffs for the week ahead and had an innate ability to locate the specific stall for whatever item they required. If you couldn’t find it there, you wouldn’t find it anywhere.
Holidays to France were often punctuated by trips to local markets and seeing the varieties of produce (often ‘live’ animals) which could be bought and taken home for tea. I love hearing the stall-vendor shouts and humorous banter between customers and traders as money and produce exchange hands.
So now the summer’s here, one of the best forms of entertainment and areas to source homemade and original items, are at the huge number of Farmer’s Markets which are dotted across Edmonton. There are some which occur on specific days of the week, all year round – whilst others ‘pop up’ in the summer months across different areas of the City on set days. Similarly, there are stalls which you’ll find there every single time you visit, and others who clearly hire them when they’ve got produce or goods to sell. They are hugely popular, and often you’re vying for space at the front just to get near the goods on offer. There’s usually a pretty eclectic mix of stalls – ranging from homemade food and homegrown produce, through to handmade jewellery, clothes, and even a stall offering different flavours of homemade dog biscuits to the discerning canine! To supplement this, there’s often musical ‘busking’ – of an extremely proficient nature, and brilliant to listen and shop to.
My 2 favourite places are the Downtown Farmer’s Market on a Saturday, and the Strathcona Farmer’s Market also on the same day – and I tend to alternate our visits each week. There are a couple of British producers that have stalls at each one – a Cumbrian lady that sells her homemade honey which is truly scrumptious, and another who is a pork butcher and has the most fantastically tasting smoked bacon that I’ve found this side of the pond. You won’t find a better black pudding without being back in my hometown of Bury 🙂
Little things obviously mark you out as English. I went to the ‘honey lady’ and offered my usual greeting of ‘Hiya’. To which she responded, ‘oh my goodness, I’ve not heard that for a while – you must be the English lady I spoke to a few weeks ago. It’s so nice to hear an English greeting, and I’ve been here 15 years so it’s been beaten out of me. We just say ‘hi’ over here‘. We then went on to pass the time of day for a further 15 minutes whilst the rest of my family entourage had to resort to eating some of the fresh cherries and slices of cake just been procured from an earlier stall. Clearly, a notice saying ‘I’m English’ slapped on my forehead is never required where I’m concerned – I just open my mouth and the first words uttered give it away. Mind you, then there’s my northern accent ……
Today we found a stall with 2 ladies who made stained glass mini-flowers for the garden. I did ask her whether I needed to bring them inside when the temperatures drops to -30, but she said only to be careful when the temperatures started to thaw again next Spring ….
The things I find so amusing and brilliant to watch, are the hoards of people who visit there, from different cultures and backgrounds. Some bring along their four-legged friends too. Dogs. And lots of them. But beautiful pedigrees and gorgeously cute. There’s one chap who we’ve seen there each week for the last few weeks. Not a dainty chap, he dresses in biker-gear and can be seen carrying what can only be described as a long-haired Pomeranian. This small dog is nestled in a leather front-facing ‘dog’ carrier (imagine a baby carrier on his biker Dad’s front), sporting his own pair of ‘oakley’ sunglasses (and I don’t mean the biker owner). Makes me chuckle each week, but the dog clearly loves the attention and seems extremely content taking in the view and numerous voices of admiration from passing onlookers. Only in Canada …
My other favourite stall is a fishmonger, who has a fabulous variety of fish which is flown in from both the Atlantic and Pacific each week. One of the drawbacks to being in Alberta and away from any ocean by a very long distance, means that fish has to be frozen. But I’ve found a stall who not only has a wonderful selection, but smokes their own fish when it arrives too – so their smoked haddock is truly fantastic and tastes superb. It’s well worth the long queues just to obtain a couple of frozen pieces …
It seems that the majority of fresh fruit is brought in from British Columbia and there’s an absolute abundance of different types of cherries, apricots, pears and apples. I love the selection and the quality of the fruit is amazing. My father-in-law has always talked about eating the most delicious blush coloured cherries called ‘Kentish Naps’ which he assumes were from Kent, England back in the 1930’s and nothing ever since has come remotely close. Well, we’ve exceeded that today. Here visiting, we took the grandparents who are now in their mid 80’s to the market and he bought some British Columbia cherries that were the same blush colour he always remembered. And guess what? They were just as good today as the last time he had them 80 years ago. What a brilliant experience and pleasure! I’m now anticipating that for the remainder of their stay with us, we’ll be consuming such quantities of the fruit that I’ll be glad not to taste them for the next 80 years 🙂
Just goes to show, you can travel half-way across the world to a country you’ve never visited before in your life, and experience something that takes you back to your childhood long ago. Brilliant. That’s what travelling is all about and making the best memories. 🙂