November 6th, 2006

The people at the Market

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Last Saturday’s trade:

Business felt slow – there just wasn’t as many people – the man from the French cafe opposite my stall says it is because of the school half term. I had tonnes left still at 2pm. In the end I stayed til 5pm. But every cloud has a silver lining, I sold everything without giving any ‘end-of-day-discount’ except for two slices of cake, so I was tired but smiling. Sometimes I wish I was selling non-food products like clothes that can be brought back again to sell the next week – but all my items are freshly made – I need to sell them on the day, otherwise it’s a loss (well… not a complete loss… it just goes in to my stomach that evening!)

This week’s post is about the people I meet at the market who have become special in my heart:

A few stalls to my left, there is the ‘Ladybird Lady‘ who sells secondhand Ladybird books & other little found gems. She would source cooking books, children’s books & cake plates I might like & would just give them to me. Not only that, she would buy cakes from my stall when I’m having a bad day, & would genuinely worry for me if I was not there one week. Her daughter is getting married next year & I will be making her wedding cake (chocolate of course!). It’s such an honour to be able to make a cake for such an important occasion in someone’s life.

Next to the Ladybird Lady is a stylish Danish lady who sells vintage Danish items. In principle, I try not to buy from the market for myself so as not to spend the money I worked so hard to earn. But, that said, there are some items that you just fall in love with at first sight, it ‘rocks your boat’ & you just have to get. You just know that if you don’t, you’d be thinking about it all week, & you’ll be getting it the next week anyway. – So I bought a plate by a famous artist/ painter/ ceramist by Bjørn Wiinblad (who was a chief designer for Rosenthal), the title of the plate is ‘tea for two‘, perfect for serving biscuits on. (I have my eyes on another item by him, which is a set of wall plaques depicting a couple’s journey through January to December, first meeting during snow sledging, falling in love & then finally the woman giving birth. A bit too girly? I especially like December plaque because that’s the month I had my child too!).

Then there is Richard the farmer meat seller two stalls to my left. We once exchanged cake to steak meat – which I cooked as ‘Steak au Poivre‘ as recommended by the French guy Bruno from the cheese stall behind me.

My stall neighbour to my right is Kim who sells her handmade bags & cards (I buy my girlfriends bags & birthday cards from her which are always popular with them). Whenever we both get a moment of free time we chat all sorts. It was through Kim’s kindness & her partner’s willingness that I had the chance to do work experience in a pastry department at a five-star hotel over the Summer this year. – Just think of what your ‘dream‘ work experience would be, & that’s what I did! A chance to see how the top professionals go about using their just refurbished high-tech kitchen (they had two ovens the size of an American-fridge, & a shock-freezer room bigger than the size of an average living room). I saw to what extent they would cream the butter before incorporating the sugar. I got to get hands on experience creating beautiful & delicate French pastry. But ah, & also how seriously cold the pastry department was kept at (very low temperature for optimum condition to work the dough & the crèmes, & to do chocolate art.- I wore short sleeve chef jacket & I was shivering all the time…).

My fix(es) of coffee are from the French Cafe L’eau à la Bouche opposite me – they would use proper porcelain cup & saucer for me to take to my stall table – because I don’t like sipping from plastic lids if I can avoid it. Drinking good coffee with a proper cup, such little luxuries bring happiness to my day there.

Our market manager Louise is like a mother figure to all – she was so kind to me when my money till was stolen (I was stupid to have had a till on the table in the first place)… I was so shook up when I realized it was gone… The market boys took control & looked after my stall while I had the sinful ciggie (that I quit five years ago) with Louise to calm myself…

Down the other end of the market, there is my friend Zita who sells fashionable clothes. Our sons are good buddies & they have the greatest fun scooting fast with their Like-A-Bikes’.

Then there are the customers who will hang around & chat with me & keep me entertained. That’s the coolest thing about the market – people are so much more at ease & enjoy shopping & approach the seller to find out more about what they are buying! – There is also a sense of community with so many locals using the market too. Regular faces showing up just to give me a feedback on their last week’s purchase from my stall. – Another aspect is the exchanging of the regular ‘hello’s & the typical market banter with other stall holders. It makes me think I’m in Eastenders drama.

– And when my friends would journey to come to see me at the stall, well it completes the icing on the cake.

4 Comments »

  1. Saw the Bjørn Wiinblad plates and like the design very much.
    Thank you for sharing the chocolate cake! Really nice!

    Comment by dirkster - November 6, 2006 6:07 pm

  2. Dear dirkmeister, that flourless choc cake was truly divine right? Can’t believe we finished all of it off, no problem!

    Comment by Tamami - November 6, 2006 8:08 pm

  3. This entry actually brought tears to my eyes and as you wrote, it was like reading about the characters from Eastenders which have become like your extended family:)
    What’s this about the chocolate cake?What a lucky guy dirkster is!! Dribble, dribble….
    Hi Dirk!

    Comment by Akiko - November 7, 2006 8:42 am

  4. Konnichiwa Aki-chan! You’re right – the market HAS become like an extended family to me, it’s now a part of me & feels like another ‘era’ in my life..! Dirk rarely gets to eat my chocolates & cakes though – He will tell you my eyes have the $$$ (dollar) sign like Donald Duck!

    Comment by Tamami - November 7, 2006 1:51 pm

 

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