Lunchtime at Albert Cuyp Markt.

Oh, there’s still so much I want to tell you all about our trip last month, and there’s still so much I want to tell you about other things (I know you don’t think I’ve forgotten to keep you posted about my CSAdventures) but somehow time has gotten away from me.  Bear with me while I figure it all out, and in the meantime, enjoy this little slideshow of photos I took at the Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam.  (Click on the legs.)

Albert Cuyp Markt, 8

Unlike London’s Borough Market and Montréal’s Marché Jean-Talon, the Albert Cuyp Markt is an actual street market; the vendors set up and break down their carts, trucks and booths each morning and night.  Don’t worry though — the street is closed to automotive traffic during market hours (Monday through Saturday from eight in the morning until six at night).

Also unlike Borough Market and Jean-Talon, the markt offers products ranging beyond produce, including clothing, furniture and even electronics — which reminded me more of some of the markets I’ve visited in Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.  There’s still a lot of food to sample, buy and smell, however.  My favorite was Amsterdam’s infamous raw herring sandwich; fatty, sweet and rich, I wish I had one in my hand right now.  It was that good.

What’s amazing about this market is that it’s in the center of a picturesque part of Amsterdam known as the Pijp, whose little pockets of ethnic communities definitely flavor the markets’ stalls.  Crave a Surinamese sweet?  Need a tagine?  The markt has everything you need, and frites to boot, so if you plan to visit, I highly recommend doing what Keith and I did: skip breakfast.

Albert Cuyp Markt
Albert Cuypstraat between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
albertcuypmarkt.com

Homesick, Sort Of.

I’m feeling homesick again, except I’m nostalgic not for where I’m from but rather for where I could be.

When we moved to this apartment about two years ago, one of the selling points aside from the ability to remodel the kitchen was the proximity to a massive supermarket.  For someone accustomed to hauling groceries home during a fifteen-minute walk, this was a big deal.  The thing is, the novelty has worn well off now, especially as I make a point, when I travel, to visit markets like London’s Borough Market and Montréal’s Marché Jean-Talon.  Each time I do drop in to such a market, my excitement is smothered a bit by a combination of my longing and my jealousy.

How wonderful would it be to instead of having a local grocery store to have a local market?  To be able to form a relationship with my chard-grower, to become friends with my sorrel-supplier, to pal around with my berry-picker…  It sounds awesome, doesn’t it, to have a connection not only with our food, but also the people who coax them out of the earth?  The closest I can come at this point is taking part yet again in the Food Project‘s CSA program this year.  We’ll start getting produce boxes in a few weeks’ time — I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, here’s a link to 2008’s food.

Late Morning at Borough Market.

Though there were several spots Keith and I both wanted to drop by during our short stay in London — Liberty, the National Gallery, Selfridges, the Tower — the one place I really wanted to swing by for a visit was a food market.  While there were so many to choose from — Broadway, Cabbages and Frocks, Blackheath, etc. — we decided on Borough Market, the oldest at 250 years.

borough-marketbmpUnlike so many of the other markets in and around London, Borough is open three days a week (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) as opposed to the usual Sunday or Saturday.  It was also incredibly easy for us to get to, since both the market and our hotel were on the Northern Line of the Underground.  Once we emerged from the tube at the London Bridge stop, we barely had to walk any distance before catching sight of the huge painted finger pointing through a narrow passageway beneath what I believe was the London Overground.  Then, like a magical creature emerging from the mists, the market was in front of us and we stood there speechless, jaws agape.

(All right, so I know that’s terribly cheesy, but what can I say?  I love markets.  The only thing that could make a market better would be a market in which you could befriend a unicorn or get a free puppy whilst picking out a bouquet of cauliflower, broccoli, rhubarb and kale.  Like they say: a girl can dream, can’t she?)

What makes Borough Market so interesting is its history: it’s been standing in the same location in one form or another for over twenty decades.  Imagine the sights the market has seen, the people who have passed through as both seller and buyer, the produce…  Honestly, the produce.  The wares here range from freshly killed pheasant to freshly picked fennel, with some toffees, coffees, wines, whiskys and wheatgrass juices thrown in for good measure.  Also easy to find are cookies, fudge, fish and flowers — with more than one hundred vendors, cafés, kiosks, restaurants, shops and stands open for business, it’s easier to think of what you can find instead of what you can’t.

Click on the picture for a short market-themed slideshow.

borough-market-8

Borough Market
8, Southwark Street
London SE1 1TL
England
+44 020 7407 1002
boroughmarket.org.uk