The gentle swaying of the laden gondolas, the movements of the market men as they unload, swinging the boxes and baskets ashore, the robust life and rattling noise contrasted with the fragile taffeta colours and the opal sky of Venice – the whole scene is out of some marvellous unheard-of ballet. Elizabeth David. Italian Food: (description of a market near the Rialto)
When last did you taste a vine-ripened tomato? Many of us have probably forgotten what it tastes like, the ripe tomato flavours and the rich aroma that are released as we cut into it. It is because many today wish to taste again what ‘real food’ tastes like that farmers’ markets are springing up in cities all over the world.
If you have not visited a farmers’ market, you are missing out. Heston Blumenthal, chef-owner of The Fat Duck recently wrote in The Times: “In our modern, highly processed age, it’s good to be confronted with cooking and eating at its most basic and elemental. “ Buying directly from a farmer, fisherman or baker brings us closer to the food that we eat. In supermarkets food is disjointed and its origins are unknown. It could come from anywhere, and probably does.
A fillet steak, hermitically sealed, no longer belongs to a cow, but exists independently in our minds. What we buy in their pretty cellophane wrappings, is anonymous, soulless, tasteless, smelling of nothing. Too often industry has been ruining the food they produce for us. Farmers’ markets are a response to this. Or whatever. Because they’re fun to visit anyway.
There is undeniably something exhilarating about the spectacle of vibrant colours and smells of fresh produce you find there. And, of course, it’s as good a place as any to start teaching a child that a mango does not come from a supermarket, but is grown in a mango grove. Islington farmer’s market, which has been in existence for 10 years, is a highly rated market. Here is the website address for a list of London farmers’ markets. http://www.lfm.org.uk/