Different Worlds – At the Farmer’s Markets

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On Sunday (late) mornings, I like to go to the local farmers market. For me that’s the one near the South (train) station (gare du Midi), and is (consequently) called le Marché du Midi. It is the biggest one in Brussels. There are several others markets, spread over different days of the week, and in various districts of the European capital. 

Woman dragging a loaded “caddie” with purchases from the Marché du Midi © Kaat Cleenewerck

I mainly go to buy fresh produce, vegetables and fruit, enough for a couple of days. That’s what most visitors do: to collect a supply of produce and other groceries for the coming week. Literally, they stroll with their shopping “caddy” from stall to stall, buying what they need – to feed a big family in most cases… So at the end of their tour, the visitors’ caddies are spilling over with their purchases, heavy to drag along … 

Much easier for me: I just need a few things, so – especially in the winter – I (almost) rush by my designated stalls and I am off. 

Also, most interesting is to go near the end of the Marché (by 1 pm), when the vendors want to get rid of their produce, and are offering bargain prices. No wonder you see the busiest turnout then.

In summer and/or good weather, I do take the time to wander along the different stalls of the huge and very colorful market. When I take a closer look, there is a lot more to discover.

Aside from the (general) produce area, you can find stalls with mediterranean specialties, such as a variety of savory olives, or an Italian booth with an wide assortment of typical tasteful cheeses and charcuterie (cold cuts). 

Beautiful flowers & plants at the market © Kaat Cleenewerck

There is also a wide area of non-expensive plants and flowers … really the place to buy your chamber plants!

Actually, you can buy almost everything to decorate your apartment: from bed linen, fabric (for i.e. curtains), to bath and kitchen supplies, … you name it.

Cheap clothes … take your pick ! © Kaat Cleenewerck

Further, some bargain hunters are interested in cheap clothing – I mean ‘really’ cheap – its quality equals the price. It is good enough if you’re looking for that casual T-shirt or those leisure pants to hang out with on the couch on a lazy day.

What is a must visit for a lot of market goers before going home, is the booth/ truck where they sell “roast chicken”, ready to ‘take out’. This is a very typical stand on the Belgian marchés. After somewhat tiresome walking and shopping at the market, a roast chicken – combined with some sides – offers an easy and fulfilling lunch!

Roast chicken truck, always busy business !

In general, the produce sold at the market are from traditional cultivation. Though in the past years, Brussels has seen a rapid growth of small ‘bio-markets’, spread over the territory. Their – mainly seasonal – products are from local growers and you get a friendly atmosphere on top of the quality!

The same pleasant feeling I find at the SoCal Farmers Markets – with the accent on “Farmers” – selling produce and food from local origin and mostly bio.

When staying in Los Angeles, on the Westside, I like to visit the Santa Monica’s Farmers Markets. My favorite is the one on Sunday mornings on Main Street, close to the beach. Why ?

Santa Monica Farmer”s Market on Main Straat © Michael Baroff

There is the overall easy-going atmosphere, because it is more than solely a market. Though the products are more expensive, it is the overall experience that counts and even predominates (slightly different than the marchés in Belgium)! 

People at the Santa Monica Farmer”s Market on Main St. eating their brunch © Michael Baroff

People gather and hang out on the lawn in front of ‘the Victorian‘, or at tables eating their brunch, purchased from one of the food trucks or stalls, while enjoying a music performance by local musicians & singers. Thus accentuating the westside “vibe”. – All is organized by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce -.

And then there is “The Table”… Local Santa Monica and Venice based friends – with an artistic/creative background – who meet every week to catch up, discuss and grumble about national and world topics, often in a serious way, but always with room for humor and relativism. Sometimes even to share a home-baked cake, or pamper a birthday girl or boy with a special present. They go way back, some years ago …

The / “Our” Friends’ Table ! (with their permission to be pictured) © Michael Baroff

When in town, I like to join my friends and take place around “Our Table” (at least for that time being) and combine it with a relaxing walk on the beach. What’s not to love, rejuvenating ocean air, fresh food, good friends, interesting topics … absorbing the whole “market” experience, SoCal way?

About Kaat Cleenewerck 11 Articles
After a 12 years "life adventure" in Los Angeles where Kaat Cleenewerck worked in independent film and as a journalist, she relocated a couple of years ago to her native country, Belgium. Yet, the ties with Los Angeles are still very strong, inviting, and most of all, inspiring.

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