Having spent so many years of my life shopping at British supermarkets, buying whichever fresh produce I fancied at any time of year and never thinking twice about where it had come from, once I’d discovered the wonders of buying local produce, it was quite an adjustment to eat with the seasons. I found it confusing and frustrating at first – what do you mean there’s no more strawberries for another ten months now? – but I quickly learned what came into season when, and I’d find it hard to return to my old habits now. Eating strawberries in the winter months feels awkward and wrong, and they taste of very little anyway: I’d much rather eat them in season, in the sunshine, impossibly dark red and juicy, and all the sweeter for having had to wait.
Shopping regularly at the Wiesbaden market, I’ve come to know many of the people from whom I buy my fruit and veg, meat, cheese and eggs. There’s an increasing number of large fruit and vegetable stalls that display exotic produce flown in from afar, but though I do buy (for example) bananas and aubergines elsewhere, shopping at the market is for me about supporting regional producers, and I try to buy produce there from the people who’ve played a part in growing (or rearing) what they sell.
I love seeing the orderly, colourful piles of fresh fruit and vegetables gradually change with the seasons. I take great pleasure in the anticipation of the first strawberries, the first white asparagus, the first wild mushrooms of the year; and it’s thoroughly enjoyable watching other shoppers decide between varieties of cherries, or apples, or plums. It’s not unusual to find myself in conversation with whoever’s in the queue before me, discussing what we’re going to do with the tomato bounty we’re procuring, or being recommended the golden beetroot over the red.
So, to complement my monthly seasonal eating guide, which offers recipe suggestions from January to December, I decided I’d like to share some photos of the Wiesbaden farmers’ market once a month, to show how the fresh fruit and vegetable offerings change over the course of the year. I hope that a few pictures of my favourite place to browse and shop and the fresh, local food I’m so lucky to be able to get my hands on here will go some way towards showing why I’m so passionate about it.
A Year in Food: October
Arriving at 9am last Saturday, the skies grey and the air cold and slightly damp, the market square was quiet but for a couple of long queues snaking away from the most popular stalls (queues largely comprising grannies picking out coldcuts-for-one from the butcher). The most prominent seasonal offerings were the apples, piled in crates in all directions, but the beetroot, walnuts, pumpkins and pears weren’t far behind.
I’d happily discovered the previous day that there are a couple of stalls at the Martkplatz on Friday mornings, so I’d had had my appetite whetted for my first proper (planned) trip to the market since we came home, and I spent a little longer than usual poking around, indulging myself after nearly thirteen months away from my favourite routine, and finding my feet in terms of where we’re at with this year’s culinary calendar.
I picked up some Sauerkraut, which I’ll cook with onions and bacon and serve with home-made Schupfnudeln (finger-shaped potato dumplings). I also stocked up on honey – a golden, runny one that’s not too sweet, good for spreading on toast and drizzling on yoghurt.
I bought a selection of vegetables – mushrooms, shallots, a cauliflower, a couple of onions, some potatoes and carrots – some of which will be going into the Schupfnudeln as well as two dishes from Meera Sodha’s Fresh India; the rest of which will be turned into soups. And I couldn’t resist some radishes: a bunch of fat red round ones (Radieschen) and an enormous white Rettich to slice thinly and eat with bread and coldcuts. I walked home with the latter poking out of the top of my rucksack, and felt very German indeed.