market day mementos

Inspired by ciao domenica blog’s recent post on bruschetta, I went to our local farmers market early yesterday morning to pick up some heirloom tomatoes and country bread for a batch of bruschetta I made for a party last night.

I have a confession to make. I can’t remember the last Saturday morning I was at our town’s excellent farmers market with its line up of local Northern California growers.  Why? Maybe when the weekend rolls around and I don’t have to take the kids to school,  the morning slips away. Or , with numerous local fruit stands,  picking patches and quality grocery stores, it would actually be hard not to buy fresh, local and organic.  (I know I’m lucky, my Canadian readers.)

In fact, I love visiting market days so much that when I’m traveling, I research the surrounding town market schedules and plan my itinerary accordingly. And, yesterday, somewhere between the heirloom tomatoes and the peaches, I was reminded of some of those market memories.

Earlier this summer when we were back in stunning Lago di Garda, Italy, we visited our favorite lake market in the town of Salo’.

prosciutto crudo at a good price at the market in Salo, Italy

It’s really a combination flea and food market. You can find underwear, Bialetti Mokas (we got one for 23 euros), cycling jerseys (husband got one), airplane gliders (son got one), a variety of meats and cheeses.

buying our mozzarella di bufala for the day’s lunch

Although we were nowhere near Campana in the south of Italy where fresh mozzarella di bufala comes from, we couldn’t help buy it to pair with tomatoes for lunch that day. (Northern Italy is closer to Campana than California at least and it was delicious.)  Back in California, my coffee poured out of our new moka each morning reminds me of our recent visit there.

I’ll also never forget visiting the Vucceria fish market many years ago in Palermo, Sicily.  This is a bustling market filled with smells and sounds including a dialect of Italian I couldn’t fully comprehend or speak. But the Vucceria is an exhilirating experience! Randomly, I have a hair bandana headband I picked up there that is stuffed in my closet and comes out from time to time at the beach. This great article describes Sicilian open air street markets.

Then there is my tablecloth from  Aix en Provence, France – which also has the most amazing open air markets. Olives, cheeses, meats, breads, housewares, linens, flowers, lighting, antiques and more.( The market at l’Isle sur la Sorgue is also well known for antiques). I have been to Aix twice and I would go back just for the markets. When I set our table – as I am about to in the above picture –  and lay out my tablecloth, I can see Aix!

olives in aix en provence

Market days are, for me, an essential part of exploring a village or city and an essential part of slow travel. Do you have a favorite market ?

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8 responses to “market day mementos

  1. Thank you for linking to my bruschetta blog post! I love local markets as well, and here in L.A. the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market is probably the best one. All the restaurant chefs from this area shop there for their menus. It is huge and you can find everything you need. I’m so glad you wrote this blog post as it will motivate me to go this Wednesday. I have also been to the antique market at L’Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence and bought some small plant containers there. Have not been to the one at Aix and will seek it out next time.

  2. The market looks so great! I love local markets, we have one here in Brockley, South East London and I go there almost every Saturday, I can’t help it! 🙂

  3. roamingtheworld

    hello there, Where abouts are you in N. California? We are lucky to have such an abundance of markets and so much fresh seasonal produce! I’m in the Bay Area, just returned after almost my year in Spain!

    • welcome back home ( if the bay area is your home) ! hopefully you are riding the waves of reverse culture shock alright! We are nearby in the university town of Davis. We have a fantastic farmers market – you will have to check it out. Having lived in the bay area for many years, its like home for us as well.

  4. Your tablecloth from Aix is beautiful! I love the patten and color of it. I used to try to make it to the weekly market in David’s hometown (I say ‘try’ because it was only on Monday mornings until noon, so sometimes I’d rush over during my coffee break) when we used to live there. I’d always buy local cheeses from the neighboring village, which is famous for its fresh goat cheese. Mmmm, my mouth still waters just thinking of it. I’d occasionally buy a few clothing items I might need, like socks and maybe a sundress, but only with my mother-in-law around, so she could bargain the prices for me (I’m terrible at “regateando”).

    I love checking out the local markets when I travel around, though I always kick myself for not having pack lighter so that I’d have room to buy more! 😉

  5. P.S. When my college roommate used to live Oakland, we’d go to the Farmer’s market there (I think it was on Saturday mornings, near the lake), and we’d have breakfast there. I’ve also been to the one in Petaluma, which I loved!! There were delicious berries and different kinds of honey for sale… so it must have been summer. *sigh* …I love the Bay Area.

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