Normally I go to Martina Franca market on Wednesdays when I need bits but I was busy having an haircut in Villa Castelli last Wednesday so missed it. Saturday is market day in Ceglie Messapica ( Cheleay mess a ( flat a) peeca) so I can do market type shopping there instead. It is a smaller market and the stallholders work a different circuit to the Martina Franca boys and girls but has most of the same stuff though I find it a little more expensive in Ceglie for some reason. There is a small fruit, plant and veg area
peaches today were €3 for 4 kilos and tomatoes were €0.25c for a kilo. I love the smell of fresh ripe peaches hot in the sun but you must be firm with the seller and insist that you choose the fruit not him otherwise you will have a bag of mush by the time you get home. They have an amazing slight of hand and off load all the over ripe ones on foreigners.
I remember the smell from my early days in Rome in the late 50’s. Then when you ordered a peach in a restaurant the waiter would arrive with a basket, you picked it and he produced a bowl for you to wash it, then he with a knife and fork would peel it and quarter it removing the stone. It was amazing to watch. I’m sure they still do it in posh places that since the Euro are way out of our price range
80% at least of the market is clothes of varying quality but manly Chinese tat with rather nice Italian labels. The rest of the market is soft furnishings for the home.
So if you cut your teeth on say french markets with their endless rows of meat, fish, bread, cheese etc stalls be prepared to be disappointed . Visitors should really aim to spend an hour max at these ones and please leave the kids by the pool but with a responsible adult of course. That is unless your friendly airline has lost your suitcase and you now need to restock the wardrobe. Italians as I said yesterday do most of their food shopping in stores they have always used and their parents used and their grandparents used back to William the Conquerer and before so certainly aren’t going to buy meat or bread from a stall.
I’ve always loved markets and where ever we pitch up around the world the market is one of the first places I head to after finding a decent watering hole and restaurant of course. You can tell a great deal about a place by it’s market and get quickly into the feel and the smells of the place. Porto market in the late 70’s still had a huge meat area where we would take hungover house guest to view massive carcasses being hacked and hewed as the cloud of large flies buzzed around them. Normally sorted them out and stopped them drinking all my vintage port again the next night lest I took them back.
My favourite market is Crawford Market in Bombay. In the centre of it is a large fountain designed by Rudyard Kipling’s father.
our then 3 year old daughter would go there with the cook to buy vegetables and live chicken and then happily come back and go out on the back porch to watch her give it the coup de grace and then help pluck it. Ah the innocence of youth !
Away from Markets you might have seen a small mention in the press about a Royal baby being born in the UK this week. It didn’t go un-noticed down here either . In fact in Lecce they have planted three trees in the main park right in the centre of town.
George is a vine for growth and abundance, Alexander is an oak for strength and Louis is an olive for peace and tranquility. They were presented by the people of Salento in thanks for the tourists from Britain that come in such numbers to help the economy. The mayor who was on parade for the planting read a note from the royal couple thanking the people of Salento for their lovely gesture. The royal couple by now are I’m sure like all first time parents wandering what has earth has hit them and whether they will ever sleep again. They will then over the next month realise that all those promises they made about not letting baby interfere with their life ” baby will fit in with us not the other way around” have gone up in smoke.