"Thank god I'm wearing sneakers".
We had made an impromptu visit to the Sydney Fresh Food Market in Flemington, and I was grateful for my enclosed sturdy shoes as I picked my way through mangled boxes and mountains of discarded pineapple tops. Even more ominous was the thought of getting my toes run over by the jostle of trolleys and absent-minded veggie-pushers up ahead.
It had been aaages since my last visit. That was an eon ago, before outdoor markets took off in Sydney, and before I became the stark raving mad foodblogger that I am today =)
At first glance, Flemington markets are about as far away from the Good Living Growers Markets as you can get. There are no pampered poodles, wicker baskets or arm-in-arm couples sipping decaf lattes. There is no warming sunshine, glint of water or the melodic soothing strumming of a bespectacled Spanish guitarist.
Instead this cavernous high-ceilinged giant warehouse is lit with industrial-looking spotlights, set in amongst a geometric hypnosis of steel beams in forest green. There are people everywhere, pushing enormous shopping trolleys, haggling with sellers, and someone will almost always choose to suddenly halt mid-step in your path.
Then there is the noise. Spruiking, yelling, shouting, imploring. "Cheeeeapa, cheeeeeapa" is the mating call. Men scale wooden palate towers and demand the attention of the crowds. Hands reach out to squeeze, grapple and grab a bargain. Amidst the crowds a beeping Bobcat creeps forward slowly.
It's exciting, entertaining and so much fun.
During the week the Flemington food markets are open to restaurants and traders. On Saturday it's a public free-for-all. Fruit, vegetables and seafood can be bought by the kilo, but even better bargains can be had by the box. And come midday Saturday, as the trading week comes to an end, the prices drop even further.
Our biggest bargain of the day? Three beautiful unblemished Jap pumpkins for one dollar. Yup. One measly buck.
And as I snapped away at random produce, I was accosted a number of times by affronted upset vendors. "Hey you, why are you taking a photo of that? . . . You should be taking a photo of me!"
And so I did.
I never met such a happy jolly bunch.
Sydney Fresh Food Market
Sydney Markets Building D
Austin Avenue, Flemington, Sydney
(Follow the Sydney Markets signs along the M4 Motorway or Centenary Drive)
Open to the public every Saturday 6am-2pm
There is also a Paddy's Organic Market on Fridays only at Paddy's Market, Flemington.
Next to general merchandise at Door 3, southern side.
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4/12/2006 11:59:00 p.m.