One of the few things I miss the most about Europe is its market culture. I used to love, love, LOVE spend my Saturday mornings at the market in Utrecht’s city center. After buying a freshly baked Stroopwafel – a large one, of course – I would spent hours going from stall to stall: freshly roasted nuts, tea and coffee, milk, yogurt, cheese, fresh fish, meat, fresh veggies and fruit, bread, chocolates, flowers, and other necessities. And I never left without saying ‘Hi’ to Ahmed and his family – who made the best olives (the massive green ones stuffed with almonds were my favorite) and feta cheese in town. In short: my market was my very own outdoors, affordable supermarket.
Most markets in Cape Town – in that respect – are not real markets.
Take the Neighbourgoods Market at the old Biscuit Mill in Salt River. This is nothing but a trendy, overpriced, pretentious food court / beer garden for those who want to see and to be seen (while standing shoulder to shoulder. Feck it gets busy there sometimes!). Yes, you can buy your bread, cheese and veggies at The Biscuit Mill there but buying food (real food, not condiments such as pestos, mustards, chutneys and other sauces) to take home and to cook with is – as far as I am concerned – not the main purpose of this so-called market. The Biscuit Mill is a place to drink beer or wine or cocktails; to sample condiments and small pieces of bread; to have another beer followed by a plate of what ever you want fancy. Obviously while looking totally hip. Okay, maybe I am a bit harsh. I do like the Biscuit Mill. However, to me it is not a market. The Neighboorgoods Market is an overcrowded, very large tented pub with a shortage of seating space where one has breakfast / lunch and a glass of what ever you fancy. But it is not a market. > Open every Sat 09am – 14pm
Then we have the Hout Bay Market on the Bay. Again, this market is not a market. It an oversized food court annex shopping mall annex arts and crafts sales place. This “market” comprises mainly clothing, shoes, garments, and cheesy souvenir stalls. Food – the kind you take home – is not a priority here either. There is one veggie stand, a rather small one, which sells produce that is 2 to 3 times as expensive as in your local super market. “Yes, but it is organic,” they’d say. Sure, but that does not mean a kg of broccoli (the first and probably last time I was there it was spelled Brekili – just a detail) should cost R21. Broccoli is in season at the moment, by the way. Oh and the coffee guy was horribly rude to us. > Open every Fri 5pm – 10pm (in summer), every Sat 9am – 5pm and every Sun 10am – 4pm
The Earth Fair in Tokai is a good market in that respect. No bullshit souvenirs, no crappy clothing that was Made in China or some other far away place, no pretentious Bloody Maries, or over-priced pizzas. There is a meat stand, fish stand, cheese stand, various bread stands, and a great veggie stall. Yes, you can sit down and eat pies and sandwiches too, which is great. The main purpose, form what I can see, is to buy your stuff and take it home. The downside is that this market is indoors. To me, markets should be outdoors events. Ag, but then again: the Earth Fair is down to earth as hell, and does not come with all the yuppie bullshit you’ll find at other markets. > Open every Sat 9 am – 2 pm & Open every Wed 3pm – 8pm
The City Bowl or Cape Town Market on Hope Street, Gardens, is my favourite market in Cape Town. Unfortunately, this market is indoors too – which sucks. That is no reason to avoid this market. The massive veggie stand at the entrance makes up for that big time. Its mostly ORGANIC produce is great and the prices are extremely FRIENDLY. The best thing at the City Bowl Market on Hope is that most of these veggies are produced in community vegetable gardens and/or by small-scale farmers in and around Cape Town. The biggest problem small-scale farmers face, is access to markets. That is why in my eyes, the Cape Town City Bowl Market blows all the other markets out of the water. Oh, and I love their cheese stand (cheeses are also made by local, small-scale dairy producers). Apart from milk and yogurt, I usually manage to find everything I need: veggies, fruit, bread, cheese, chicken, and eggs. And breakfast – with great organic and fair trade coffee – too! > Open every Sat 9am – 2pm
Do you know a fantastic market in or around Cape Town, please drop me a line. I would love to hear from you as I kinda miss my ‘Saturday mornings at the market’ 😦
PS: For a list of more markets in & around Cape Town, click here.