If you read my post Downton Kingston, you’ll know my first trip with my husband to Coronation Market was a fairly adrenalin-filled adventure, where we bought nothing, kept madly smiling and moving on and felt pretty much like target practice! Well, I’m delighted to say that I’ve just been there for a second time, this time with a local, and had a totally different experience. Certainly pays to follow someone about who knows what they are doing!
This time, we went on a Friday morning, which was literally about a thousand times less busy and mental than the Saturday morning when I’d visited before. The lady I went with is a Brit who’s lived here many years and does her shopping at the market every week. She buys in bulk; she is the creator of a delicious range of soups and sauces known as ‘Gourmet Touch’ which she supplies to Loshushan Supermarket (the uptown, upmarket supermarket here frequented by many expats).
She drove me and another couple of ladies downtown, and parked right next to the enclosed part of Coronation Market, a huge area with orderly stalls, and a cool breeze running through it.
I am embarrassed to say myself and Ed didn’t even find this bit the week before, we slightly missed the whole point and just walked round the cheaper, madder end under all the sagging tarpalings which so much hotter, more cramped, hassley and smelly.
Now I feel quite embarrassed we made such a drama out of our visit at all! It’s all part of the learning curve I guess, but going (to the right part of the market!) with an expert made it all seem very normal and friendly, and I really enjoyed chatting to stall holders and buying a few bits of fruit for our hotel minibar fridge. Things seemed less than half the price of the supermarket, and lovely and fresh, and we didn’t get hassled at all, even as a gang of four white ladies.
I would say it was all plain sailing, but at one stage, a terrible shrieking started up quite near us and suddenly hoardes of people all rushed towards where the commotion was, jumping up onto fruit stalls for a better look. The fight was between two quite eldery ladies, both in headscarves screaming and waving their arms at each other and then I saw the flash of a large knife in the air! Presumably every one of the sellers in that market has a knife or a machete for dealing with all the vegetables, which is a fairly alarming thought, but I did get the impression that with these two, it was just a lot of gesticulating going on, and no one was about to get stabbed. One would hope anyway! Anyway, eventually the women were separated and calmed down, and people started resuming their business again.
My new friend said she had never seen anything like it, in years of coming to the market, but the experience did slightly go with my theory that it’s just as you are beginning to feel confident and relaxed here, suddenly something will happen to get you right back on your toes again! Also makes me think you might have to be a bit careful about switching allegiance between sellers if started coming here regularly – I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the middle of all that!
Anyway, for about 5 euros I’d bought lots of bananas, apples, satsumas and lovely fresh tomatoes (a slightly mad amount in fact – everything is sold by the pound, and when I asked the lady for 4 tomatoes, I ended up with 4lbs of them – a fairly huge bag!) Just can’t wait to have a kitchen and start cooking properly here – because the spice stalls, huge piles of leafy veg and colourful fruit were all very tempting – particularly the huge bunches of callaloo. A Jamaican vegetable just like spinach but slightly stronger tasting, this leafy green sells at 50J$ for a huge bunch – about 50 cent in Ireland! I’ll be back, and next time, hopefully with a camera…