We have been pretty busy this year already - from dog sledding in Sweden to diving in Iceland, spending time with my grandparents and my sister, visiting Paris with friends - we decided that we needed a couple of weekends at home to regroup. Whenever we are home on a Saturday morning, there is one thing that I always like to do: go to the market. Each Saturday, no matter the weather, farmers, butchers, chicken keepers, and flower growers come from all over the region to sell their produce, meat, eggs, cheese, and flowers. The produce is always super fresh and the quality is fantastic. Not to mention, I love that I am supporting local farmers and am able to eat locally and seasonally.
This time of year, some of my favorites are coming into season: strawberries, early blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, and asparagus. I have been eating strawberries nearly non-stop for a couple of weeks now, Aaron has been pounding the cherries, and we're still not sick of them yet . And man they are perfect! The strawberries aren't those big monstrosities found in US grocery stores, these are much smaller, red all the way though, and pack in more strawberry flavor than one would think is possible.
And then there are the tomatoes! Ripe, juicy, local tomatoes still on their vine are the best. I made a batch of salsa a couple weeks ago with ingredients all bought at the local market and it was pretty darn good. The onion was a little harsh, so there is some room for improvement. But the BEST part of tomatoes being in season are the tomato sandwiches on fresh bread from the local bakery. The mayonnaise isn't right though, so I am currently on the hunt for the best mayonnaise in Germany that doesn't taste like Miracle Whip (gross!). If you have any ideas, let me know! In the meantime, I do have someone bringing me a jar of Mayo brand back from the States.
Another thing I always pick up at the market are fresh flowers. Right now, Peonies are in season and I can get a bunch of 10 stems for less than 5 euro. They're so fresh that they often last for two weeks at a time. Tulips were great when they were in season a few months ago, and later in the summer, gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums, and dahlia's will start to become popular.
There is more than just produce at the market too. We can get dried herbs for a fraction of the cost at the grocery store, and the quality is much better. Dried fruits, frisch käse (similiar to cream cheese, but mixed with other stuff like basil, garlic, or peppers, and used as a dip for crackers or a sandwich spread), marinated olives, local eggs from the cutest old man, and organic meat often find their way into my shopping bag too. There are sausage vendors, coffee stands, crepe trucks, and a wine stand (you know the German's love their wine, even if it is 10 in the morning!). I love watching the people - some with kids in tow, others carting a shopping basket on wheels, many with picnic basket to carry their purchases home. The shouts from the vendors to try their cherries because they are the best in the market, the voices of people picking out their vegetables, and the chiming of the Rathaus clock can all make for a sensory overload, but I love it.
These markets are fairly common in Europe. Most towns will have one on Saturday mornings, and some will have one in the middle of the week too. If you're ever visiting Europe, I would highly suggest finding one and strolling around for a couple of hours. Maybe grab some coffee, buy some cherries, and just people watch. They really are one of the best ways to see the city from the eyes of the locals.