swiss saturdays: local markets
As I’ve mentioned before, living abroad brings out the patriot in me. With that said, I’m still able to remember that living in the USA is not without its faults–one of those being the food buying habits in America. I’m heartened to see CSA on the rise as well as farmers markets springing up everywhere, but it’s still tough to think about how much we lack in common sense when it comes to seasonal eating. What else would explain December access to strawberries in the grocery stores?
In fact, my first real experience with understanding seasonal eating was living in Italy. It was my first experience living abroad as an adult and having to feed myself. Granted, I was only 19 at the time, but the markets seemed like a place of endless wonder and a great place to practice my Italian. I developed an unlikely friendship with a woman at a fruit stand who kindly referred to me as “la ragazza delle susine” or “plum girl”. Thankfully, it wasn’t because my shape resembled that of a plum (that would have been at the end of my stay, not the beginning) but rather because I moved to Italy during the late-summer months when the plums were amazing. Juicy, fragrant and abundant. I just couldn’t get enough and it was always the first thing I asked for. Then suddenly, just like that, they were gone. Although still greeted by my name of “plum girl”, I was told there would be no more plums. WHAT?! No more plums? How could this be, you get me hooked and then you rip them away?! I want, nay demand, more plums. Of course, no riot ensued, just a simple smile and some suggestions for other fruit and veg to offer. I licked my wounds and bought what she recommended. Thankfully, she didn’t start calling me “pumpkin girl”.
Although, it’s sad to see your favorite produce come and go, getting excited by the next addition is always fun. Not to mention how fun it is to figure out what the new addition to the market is. My love affair with baerlauch or ramps started here. The markets in Switzerland make this easy and are a destination in and of themselves. People come in with their ridiculously cute wicker baskets and, in Luzern, every Tuesday and Saturday morning pick up their fruits, vegetables, flowers and even meat and fish for the week. There are also beautiful dairy stands offering yogurt, meat, milk and cheese from the area. In fact, it’s less of a market and more like the most amazing grocery store ever.
If you find yourself in Luzern, and I hope one day you do, pay a visit to the market on Tuesday or Saturday (7am-12 or 1pm). Bring a bag, your appetite and camera. You won’t be disappointed. And if for some cruel reason, you are in Luzern, but can’t make the market, treat yourself to the Luzern Market Cookbook. It’s available, in English, at Stocker books on Luzern’s main shopping drag, Hertensteinstrasse. In my opinion, the perfect Luzern keepsake.