Friday, July 21, 2006

another market ode

It’s been a full on few days, an emotional week. I got back after midnight from an uncharacteristically cold and wet Sydney. In the morning I woke to Melbourne sunshine, chilly light maybe, but a glorious blue sky none the less.

There is much talk on this, and most, blogs about food and comfort. When the world feels like it is tilting a little precariously on its axis, rituals around what we eat and drink flood in.

For me it is the joy of browsing Vic Market for fresh produce. It’s exchanging some banter with a friend who works at one of the organic stalls, caressing the avocado while selecting whether it’s good enough to buy out of season, planning your meal from the ingredients at hand. I find the ritual of my weekly shopping deeply comforting. There is a security blanket effect from knowing there are healthy things in my fridge that will get me through a tough week. There is a sense of community coming from the market workers and fellow shoppers. There is the relief of routine even at an unpredictable time.

So on my return, I got myself back into check by sticking to my regular market date. I wrote my list and put it in my pocket. Mostly I don’t look at it and just go with the flow with what tempts me on the day.

We are still in the depths of winter here in Melbourne. Though the sun shone, you can only feel the rays if you stand directly in its path. I hadn’t eaten breakfast so grabbed a couple of delicious vegetarian nori rolls (from Tofu Trek) and found a seat in the alley, which was flooded with glorious sun. Across the road, next to the incongruous fast food outlet, a guy was wired for sound and busked songs from the 70’s. Sometimes such tunes irritate me, but not today. I felt buoyed by the warmth, the light and even the frivolity of cheesy music.

I made my way to the organic section and drank in the rich colours – deep greens, vibrant oranges, a splash of red rhubarb. I filled my basket with root vegetables to bake and leafy greens to sauté or put in a salad.

The garlic was the elephant variety and $30/kg. Each year about this time I curse myself for forgetting to stock up on the alliums before they become seasonally scarce. Under no circumstances will I stoop to buy the conventionally grown garlic from China, no matter what!

However, I do grab some shitake mushrooms, which I can never find at any of the organic stalls. Also some bright tangelos, to pad out my fruit bowl.

The rest of the shopping takes me indoors – a smoked eel as a special treat (eel blogging coming soon – I promise !), some green olives, various meaty delights for the cats.

Last stop is always the fish section. I go to the pickiest, freshest counter. I trust them when they say their produce is fresh not frozen. I am lured by a small, thick slice of Trumpeter, who’s name I know but whose taste I can’t place.

Then I am off home to fill the kitchen with fruit, stew some rhubarb, restock the fridge with delights and indulge some neglected felines.

On the menu:

Trumpeter steamed with chilli, coriander, fish sauce and lime juice*
Steamed basmati rice
Stir fried bok choy, shitake mushrooms, spring onions and garlic – with a touch of tamari*
Rhubarb compote with apple, dried sultanas, apricots and cinnamon.*

* go to the fab new drop down menus in the sidebar to recipes

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Blogger foodkitty said...

Ah, rhubarb, rhubarb. A friend bought an old house and was showing us the veggie garden "filled with crappy weeds". Oh yes, rhubarb, ruby chard and sorrel. The rhubard was so young it was still very blush pink pale.yum.

4:39 pm  
Anonymous Paul said...

I work right near the vic market and also do a weekly shop there, out of curiosity which is your fav. fish counter? mine is the one on the corner of the centre section as you walk in from the deli, it looks like its owned by a couple and their kids in their late20's work there.

2:16 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

I have two. Not sure if its the one you go to - but on that intersection is the one that sells sushi quality fish and almost everything they sell is fresh. They are very truthful in their labelling and have consistently high quality. The other is a greek one, second from Elizabeth St, on the deli side of the fish hall.

Out of the market, Canals, in Nicholson St, Nth Carlton is fantastic. A great family business.

6:57 pm  

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