22.8.06

The Baltic, part II


You must know that I left Riga central market practically crying with frustration. Left to myself , I would have filled a couple of suitcases to bring home, but J dragged me away, in the end, and I can see that it made sense, but dear me, it was hard.

It was all so fascinating, you see. We´d gone to shops, and to the market in Tartu, which is really quite fine. And there had been the roadside stalls with the raspberries, pretty much everywhere and so delicious.

But that market, o my.
I wish I had pictures to show you, but there was no time to draw.You can check out these, to see what it´s like.

First, it´s huge, filling five old zeppelin hangars (how cool is that?) and spilling out over a big square.

And it´s just brimming with stuff, and all of it so damn good looking. Mind you, it´s not lively like Spanish markets, where there´s a lot of noise from people gossiping and joking. Here the air was pretty serious, and everyone moved with a respectful bustle inside those huge hangars with the golden light streaming in from high above. The feeling was of being inside a cathedral built to honour pork products.

And what pork products. The variety of sausages, and smoked hams, and the fresh stuff, cut so weirdly. I could feel my head popping with all the new information.

Each hangar seemed to have a different thing, so one was meat, one dry goods and bread ( again, eye popping selection of black breads ), another vegetables, another dairy ,and the rest clothes and stuff.

Outside there were many more stalls with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Everything looked so colourful, and was so attractively arranged, I really had trouble not stocking up.

Berries, for one. You see, here fresh berries are exotic, and sell in tiny containers, cost a lot, and taste like nothing. I buy frozen mix packs, and they´re perfect for baking. But when I saw all those, arranged so neatly, and so many of them, I just wanted to start making jam straight away.
And they had Uzbek melons! I illustrated a book of Uzbek folktales once, and they went on and on about melons, and now I can see why. They´re a zeppelin cousin of honeydew, I think. José patiently explained to me that if the new air security regulations balk at hair gel, a melon the size of a pig wasn´t going to make it through. Again, sigh.

The mushrooms, well, they were mindblowing. In August! I ask you, how could I let those beauties pass me by? It was heartbreaking. There seemed to be so many, and all looked so pretty, and they were cheap, so help me. Triple sigh

The herbs were everywhere. The whole market smelt of dill, pretty much, but there was so much else. Onion seeds, and purple basil, and many more I didn´t even recognize. They sold bouquet garnies for pickling cucumbers ( I think) ,a gorgeous mix of greens, with the onion seed tuft on top. I would carry them as a posy, they looked that good.

You´ll be glad to know Gallina Blanca exports stock cubes, and I´m glad to say, they have kept the good packaging there, phew.
And by the way. In Latvia, they sell single cubes, at the checkout, next to the chewing gum and candy. Isn´t that odd? I didn´t actually see anyone sucking a cube, but I take it that´s what they´re for, since they´re in the sweets section. Fascinating.

That´s all. I can´t write about it anymore without practically crying at the thought of all those missed opportunities. O well.

10 comentarios:

Guru dijo...

Keep all the info just in case I decide to go there! I feel so envious ....

ann dijo...

wow!
i want to go just to see that market! five zepplin hangars?! phenomenal!
too bad about the melon, i'd like to see a picture of a melon the size of a pig ;-)
welcome back!

Julie dijo...

Oh, I know just how you feel! I LOVE food markets and make them my first desination when I'm travelling. I wish I lived near a market like Pike's Place in Seattle or St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. I feel like crying when I think of those places and all the gorgeous food I couldn't buy because I had no kitchen to take it home to! It would be wonderful to rent homes when you travel to those places so you can just shop and cook all the time. Welcome back!

Molly dijo...

Oh, you poor thing, having to pass all that up. It sounds like a waking dream! I especially loved the mention of the Uzbek melons - too funny! You're such a lovely writer, Ximena.

Anita dijo...

I love your drawings - it really does make it seem like a fairytale trip to another land! Glad you had a good time!

Lego y Pulgón dijo...

¡Te acompaño en el sentimiento! Eres un espíritu fuerte, yo hubiera sucumbido a las bayas, y si no me dejaban pasar la mercancía en el control del aeropuerto, hubiera montado un puestito de mermeladas y me hubiera quedadop a vivir en Riga, y hubiera conocido a Baiba, el amor que pudo ser y no fue de Kurt Wallander...

jenjen dijo...

Your drawings are taking me to the Baltic. they are just so beautiful

bea at La tartine gourmande dijo...

Oh I know what you mean about being frustrated to go to markets and not buy because you have no place to cook it with! I wish I could have been there too!

an9ie dijo...

Sounds like a great trip, and now you're back all refreshed and full of energy! Just wondering, did you find any language problems? Or were you able to get around OK in English?

kickpleat dijo...

oh, i loved hearing about your baltic travels! i plan on going to lithuania next autumn, so i'm excited to hear how lovely it all was.

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