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

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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…).

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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.
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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…
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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’.

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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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