Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Central Market

This morning I thought that it was definitely time to go to the Central Market again. Shopping there means I can buy in bulk many of the things I buy prepackaged at the supermarket. Furthermore, most of those kinds of products are ones which are not monopolised by unethical companies so even if I don't know the company providing the product it's going to be okay. I can go into Grains and Goodies with bottles, jars and bags in hand and buy up big without guilt. I live about 20kms from the Market so shopping there raises issues of car emissions. It's a case of packaging versus petrol. It's not really guilt-free after all.

I live in a nice area. The people around me love it. I don't. It's not that their judgement is wrong and mine is right or anything. It's that I live in the 'burbs and essentially I'm an urbanite. For me it's a case of shopping at my bland and homogenised local shops week in and week out or branching out every so often - or more - and  going to the market to be jostled by the crowd, shop alongside immigrants from all over the world, inhale the smell of the market and, if you've lived in Adelaide you know that smell, listen to the stallholders try to hawk their wares and experience sensory overload.

We arrived in Adelaide forty one years ago and my love affair with the market began on our first trip there. At first it was due to the warm cinnamon donuts and raspberry cordial my sister and I were bribed with to behave while my parents shopped.

During my high school years we lived on the outskirts of the city and I went to school for the first three years next door to the market. I was able during that time to provide myself with my beloved donuts and cordial. One year, for whatever reason, we had to have our Drama lessons in a big room next to the car-park above the market. I can still remember walking up the street and then being assailed by that familiar smell as we climbed the stairs.

Later I moved schools but worked at the market every Friday night after school. In the time I had to kill between finishing school and starting work I would wander around drinking in the sights and smells. No need to buy treats, I worked at a continental deli/coffee shop where I would eat hungarian salami sandwiches on rye bread, followed by a Baci chocolate.

During those years my mother and sister would get up early on a Saturday morning, shop at the market and be home before I even got up. They'd finish their shopping with breakfast at Lucias. Mama Lucia was serving cappuccinos to the Adelaide public before any of them could even spell or say it. It's still there and has taken over the former Athens deli next door.

When Husband and I set up house together we lived near the market and shopped there every Friday night. Adelaide was changing by then. The Mediterranean and Eastern Europeans stallholders were being added to by our ever-increasing Vietnamese population. Chinese supermarkets sprung up all over the market and eventually Chinatown was born.

Teenage Daughter had her first trip to the market at three weeks old. Our favourite stall-holders had taken possession of my expanding belly and couldn't wait to see her. When she was an only child, despite the distance to the market, I took her every week. We stopped going on Friday nights; the two of us went during the day without Husband. We ate lunch every week at Malacca Corner where she'd share my Hokkien Mee and Jasmine tea. When she'd finished she'd quietly go and tell the former owner and he'd give her a sweet. Anyone remember that lovely old man? I tried to take Teenage Son. We went a few times but never got into the same routine. He loves it, though, having been those few times.

I think it's probably six of one and half a dozen of another as to the ethics and eco-friendliness of shopping at the market. If it's not going to add to the problem then that's good enough for me.



  1. homesick for the markets.... I loved them - used to shop there every week for years and years. Lovely post, Rachel, brought back many memories.

  2. Also like the marked but limited opportunities to go so I do my weekly vege shop at the markets at Marion / Brighton on sunday ams. Generally the produce is good, mostly locals and it has pretty good atmosphere (although as it is outside it can be moist this time of year). I feel better about shopping there than at a supermarket for veg which is what I used to do for "convenience". I am not inconvenienced by my me time at the market early on Sunday though - and it means I get nice (and cheap) produce that lasts the whole week and can generally afford prolonged (or any) weekly supermarket visits.

    1. I usually order through an on-line company. They go to the wholesale market early that morning and deliver the same day. The produce lasts for ages because it's so fresh. I don't think I'd buy produce at the supermarket anymore. The Brighton Market is quite good, too. The added bonus is that the money goes to the music program.

    2. I would like to use the online stuff (even thought about the Jupiter creek farm boxes) but there is something to be said for picking out your own stuff - call me a control freak if you will!! I don't even like letting Stu go to the market because he doesn't always judge it as well). Glad to hear I am supporting my alma mater!! I rarely buy veg / fruit at a supermarket now - only go for pantry staples which means I don't have to go as much / often. With very few exceptions the produce at the supermarkets (any of them) is rubbish!!! (and usually way more expensive!!)

  3. Beautiful. My great grandmother was prominent in my youth. I could shuck corn and de-string snap beans when I was three, and pluck the pinfeathers from a fresh chicken by four. Between "progress" and the concerns of public health, this is a rapidly dying experience, and you should provide it to every young person you know and like. On the pollution side, cars, as bad as they are, have been getting steadily better since at least WWII. Compare today's emissions to one of those big tuna boats of the 60s, when you could tell how well it was running by the amount of smoke it was making. Then compare the emissions of a modern packaging plant to the day when the grocer put your scoop of rice into a paper sack. It sounds like a good trade all around; enjoy it while it's still there...

    1. That makes me feel better. Thanks, Jack. Central Market - here I come!