“Local” is trendy.
You can eat local produce. Wear local designer T-shirts. Work with local businesses.
But when you go to a new city it’s hard to know where to find the cool things that feel authentically, you know, local. But there is a magical world of local colors, scents, tastes, artisans, craftsmen, and people for the perusing in more than a few places you visit.
It isn’t at the mall or High Street.
This conglomerate of authenticity is found at markets.
In the US we do these in the form of local Farmers Markets and a handful of large permanent markets like Pike’s Place in Seattle. When Mat and I are in Fayetteville you can find us at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning – probably with a Rick’s Bakery sausage roll in hand.
In Europe the market is a way of life. It is something understood about a place not a novelty. Many places, particularly larger cities, have more markets than you could see on a Saturday. And every one of these has a different feel. Every one displays a new facet of local life. Every one gives you no fewer than 25 reasons to come hungry.
We have been to markets in Fayetteville, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Charleston, Vienna, London, Marrakech, Paris, Oxford, Turkey and Barbados. Each one different from the one before because local is what they do. They have to be different.
Local is fun to experience because its different from what you know. In Marrakech a monkey reached out and grabbed Mat’s shoulder. That was not Mat’s favorite part of the market. In Barbados the market comes alive after dark complete with fish fry and a stage of rotating DJ’s (you know, people who control the ten disk CD player).
In London the local breweries set up shop, cheese mongers sell tiny cones of fresh mozzarella, and you get to see quintessential British Gents buying produce (see below for quintessential British Gent).
Find a market. With few exceptions it’s always fun and always worth your time and always the spot to find your markets Banana Jam (Maltby Street Market - if you visit there get you some). Markets will leave you with all the local you can ask for and sometimes more (remember the monkey).