Markets, bazaars, souks and la boqueria…..different names for different lands. The excitement is the same. Some of the best sightseeing experiences in foreign countries are found in the markets. Tourists gravitate toward them. The boqueria in Barcelona is incredibly enticing and attractive. Children especially are drawn to linger inside. Fresh and fanciful, the fruit was juicy, the jamon hung from the ceiling, fresh smoothies were being blended and nuts and spices were on display as well. Chorizo sausage is now a staple in our home.
Morocco’s souk had it all—cactus fruit, teas, nuts, spices, etc. A Berber woman busted open a cactus fruit to let us sample it. Magic! Switzerland‘s farmers market had huge sunflowers and florals for sale among their food items. Mexico‘s markets had omelets frying on griddles and fish stews boiling and bubbling. Greece‘s market had bundles of wild sage and oregano for sale. Turkey’s bazaar had sumptuous gyro sandwiches with red cabbage shredded inside.
In a book I recently read, I learned about the Armenian food market and an interesting and exotic item they have for sale there—cow hooves! Cow hooves are the main ingredient in khash, which is cow feet soup! Khash is considered “Armenian soul food” and it’s gone from being food for commoners to gourmet food, now! Khash contains the hooves and stomach after days of soaking in water, scraping it clean and hours of cooking.
An international farmers market we enjoy on U.S. soil is in Kansas City. The City Market thrives with its bustling atmosphere and live entertainment. Unique flea markets surround the area and it’s the closest thing to home where we can get certain delicacies.
Every summer, we try to go to the Porter Peach Festival in Porter, Oklahoma. The orchard and market is where you get the homegrown fruits and vegetables and the festival and parade is in their old downtown square where they have cobblers, pie ala mode, funnel cakes and more. Although quite different from a market in Morocco, both had camels!
A sentimental favorite is our own Cherry Street Farmers Market in Tulsa. A Saturday morning tradition from Spring to Fall, people stroll the market regularly, whether they buy anything or not. Granted, you may have your favorite items but the live music, sunshine and happy people are the main benefits. Seeing parsnips for sale was a deja vu to a trip in Ireland where we had parsnip soup for the first time. I bought some parsnips for sentimental reasons and cooked them up that night for an attempt at recreating the soup. This may not have happened if it weren’t for the neighborhood farmers market stroll! We expanded our horizons with this new recipe….and soaked up the horizon, too!
© Gina Michalopulos Kingsley
photos by Gina