Friday, 30 March 2012

Market Mania

In my time in Croatia, I developed a mania for the markets.

Almost every town has its own Trznica (Terz'-neetsa, with the 'z' sounding like the 's' in 'measure'), or market.  Most have a simple roof over a courtyard area, open to the Agean air.  To one with an artistic eye, they were simply paintings on a living canvas - one that included brilliant shades of colour, aromas of sea and earth and sky, and a living canvas of ever-changing produce and places and human drama.

 I loved these markets for the slice of European life they offered a travel-starved small-town Canadian girl. The strings of blazing paprika (peppers) interspersed with garlic and onions were deliciously edible eye candy that I had never had the pleasure of seeing before in that form.  Rows of gleaming bottles filled to the brim with local wines, olive oils, homemade rakija (stiff flavoured alcohol), figs, mushrooms, fruit - the list of wares was as endless as the lines of friendly merchants.

It became a game of sorts for us to learn enough vocabulary to be able to ask for 'Jedan jabuka, molim" (one apple, please), or "Tri rajcisce" (three tomatoes), and make ourselves generally understood.  The produce was picked daily, fresh from the farm, absolutely delicious, and in top condition.  It was fun to create meals from the variety of foodstuffs available at the trznica.  Most vendors were very accommodating in our language blunders, and seemed genuinely pleased with our small efforts.

It was a delight to wander through the other areas of the market as well - the trays of unusual and incredibly delicious cheese ('sir') were hard to pass up.  Each vendor sold a variety unique to his/her area, created with ancient and secret family recipes handed down through the generations.  I absolutely feel in love with some of these cheeses!

The fish markets were also fun to explore.  Most of those critters were entirely unfamiliar to me.  I love seafood, and live 2000 miles from the sea - so to poke around at the fishmongers' hang-out and see the daily catch, different each market day, was an exciting novelty!

Here at home, I don't go to our local 'Farmer's Markets' much because I grow all of my own produce in my own garden.  There definitely are no homemade cheeses or freshly-caught fish to sample.  There isn't the babble of languages and community of such a range of cultures to rub up against, either.

When you have the chance to travel, don't always 'eat out'.  Take the time to mingle at the market.

You may just develop a market mania, yourself!


  1. I love open markets. I don't garden so I'm always appreciative of the opportunity to browse local markets for fresh produce and other local culinary items. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a world traveler, but even in urban areas markets can feel exotic. Great pics!

    1. Thanks, Jean! Local markets are a gateway to local culture, for sure - even in our own backyards...

  2. You are absolutely selling Croatia. I love the fish market as I am definitely a 'Billingsgate' addict in London. I'm gonna follow now.

    1. Thanks! I can't sell Croatia passionately enough - I loved my time there so much. You simply can't beat fresh fish!