Thursday, 19 June 2008

Bazaar numero one

It is time to get closer to the main topic.

Today I have worked in the market in Cork. It’s a beautiful little market, cleverly situated right next to Debenhams (of all places…), which was established a couple of years ago by Rupert and Lydia, the latter is Darina Allen’s daughter. Ok, perhaps I should go back a bit and explain who Darina Allen is. She is a combination of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Gordon Ramsey, with a bit of Margaret Thatcher thrown in for good measure. Some have called her ‘the face behind Irish food renaissance’. She has published more than a dozen of cookery books, established the first farmers’ market in Ireland (now there are over a hundred) and runs a world-renowned cookery school that sees hundreds of students from all over the world coming the learn the basics, to introduce themselves to the landJ This is also the way where I’ve been living for the last week.

The energy of the person is ground-breaking, and the fact that all of her children (four) including their partners, as well as her brother and her husband, all live nearby and involved in the business one way or the other, says a lot I think. The lovely market in Cork mentioned at the beginning is an off-shoot of Darina’s activities. Although its success (and it is doing so well that I’ve heard various people refering to it in that ‘if only my/our/that/this market was run like this’ manner) is thanks to Darina’s eldest daughter and her partner who have a flair of aristocracy about them, but who up until the birth of the first child a few months ago lived in an ancient looking hut really:) with no hot water or a telephone line, located not far from the school with wind-sweeping views of the sea.

Today I was working next to Rupert, but quite separately – our stall was selling just two things: steak sandwiches and cupcakes. As promised in the earlier correspondence, below is a picture of the divine cupcakes and a little further on of their maker (on the left) - Phillip (on the right is Ollie - another stagier like myself, from California).

I was on the grill, in Emilia’s domain – Phillip’s girlfriend and…Darina’s youngest daughter. Apparently I am a really good ‘griller’ (maybe it’s my KGB grandfather’s dna??). Whatever the case we worked flat out for good couple of hours, with people wanting so much of the grilled stuff that by the end anything that had two slices of bread around it was selling. Most of the cakes were sold too – amazing! The sandwich was a simple baguette with a spread of thick home-made mayonnaise, onions, that were earlier caramelised and so were very sweet and tender, and a few drops of (‘legendary’ apparently;)) sweet chilly sauce. I just loved the fact that such a simple formula works over and over again – good quality, simple food sold at honest prices – works (god, I sound like one of those Masterchef judges – please excuse me).

About an hour into the, I was going to say ‘service’, after the market officially opened this ‘dude’ appeared with four enormous trays of…spinach! He had just started his farm nearby (eehh, too much wwoofing experience in New Zealand?? I should have asked really) and had lots – loads – of lovely, fresh, organic spinach!

This reminded me of another stall just a few days ago at another local market, in Middleton. There was a guy – beary looking bearded fellar – selling buckets of potatoes. Just that. The potatoes from his own farm, needless to say organic. They were selling like hot cakes (I did buy some and had them for the next three days for dinner, just cooked with lots of olive oil and salt – new potatoes, with very thin and pale skin just falling off ahhhh).

This is what I love about farmers’ markets, about the whole ‘real’ agriculture thing. I am not going to deny the omnipresent power of the Borough market – you can’t beat its art-gallery like quality and the sheer variety of produce (and the quantity of free nahalyavu tasters). But of course the reality of many people, not just in our oh so highly developed society, is like this – one guy growing loads of great potatoes (beetroot, lettuce, lemons) and wanting to sell them – because she, he needs to make a living; because it’s their soul, their baby. Because they have put a lot of hard labour into it and are proud of it; and because they can’t imagine doing anything else.
p.s. apologies for some of the odd placed text, alongside the photographs - no idea. have tried to fix, nop.

No comments: