Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Olympic Market

The usual wholesale market to which I've been going for five years and more is far from Hackney, which has meant that I've been there only a few times in the last year. Last week I decided to try another wholesale market not far from my house.

I went on a Saturday because I know Saturdays are slow. Markets work for half days and there's less traffic of traders and buyers and vehicles. It also means less things to find. But it was the first time and I wanted to feel the place before plunging into the full experience.

The area is this large expanse of East London: flat and empty, with motorways and warehouses. I like that area, in its fucked-up and contemplative way. The Olympics are designed to "regenerate" this, but to what exactly, I guess we have to wait and see. My guess: fucked-up unused giant Olympic installations. The market is just opposite the Olympic construction ground. What exactly is supposed to be opposite, I'm not sure: the Olympic Village, or Velodrome, or is it the basket ball arena? the Olympic maps tend to be a bit fuzzy. Whatever it'll be, they'll have nice smells from the market nearby, of grit and rotting vegetables.

It's time to cycle into the market, through the main gates. The main trading area is inside a huge hangar. There was little, if anything, to find outside it. And so I ventured in, by foot, with some trepidation. Walking for some minutes without seeing anything worth picking. Wondering if people would stop me to ask what I'm doing there. But they didn't. Finally I spotted some coriander, and parsley, and a few papayas lying on the floor. As I picked them up, one of the merchants offered me another papaya: "it's a good one!" he said as he walked away.

People are friendly here, I thought. Skip one, get one for free.

After this it only got better. Slowly I collected a nice loot for a Saturday morning: a whole bag of rocket (Israel); tons of radishes; four beautiful Radiccios; green beans (Israel); four fennels, and one mango (Brazil). No organic produce, as far as I could see.

My conclusions: this market is smaller, and is probably oriented towards corner shops. Still a nice number of luxury items. It seems more relaxed, with no market-police driving around with security-uniforms and hats.

And it's all for free.

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