Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday Market in Antwerp

Saturday morning, John had some errands to run for the university, so I took the girls to the Saturday market, also called the Bird Market. One of the things we love to do back in Harrisonburg is walk down to the local farmers' market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so I figured once they saw where we were, they'd know just what to do.

What I hadn't anticipated was just how amazing this market would be! The best market by far that I've ever been to, just for the size and sumptuous food, is the Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy, but it was as though about 1/8 of that market was flown to Antwerp and arranged outside in a beautiful plaza. We walked all through the market, intending to purchase our choices on the way back. I wanted to make sure I didn't spend all my money at the first stall only to see even better things later.

There were so many varieties of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, nuts, breads, and other specialty items...and then the regional specialties: food wagons for Italian, Greek, and Spanish cooking, and then we found a little cafe area in one corner where there was an ESCARGOT WAGON!!! I kid you not. Hey, it's just like Harrisonburg, right? (not).

I paid 2 euro for a small bowl of escargots in broth. The broth was chicken broth with lots of pepper and also some celery chunks cooked in there. The escargots were firm and delicious. I let each of the girls try one, and they really liked them, so I just crouched down next to the stroller and we shared, taking turns. I figured out how to put the escargots in their mouths in just the right way so I could grab the little remnant of shell before they ate it. It was getting chilly, and the broth was still steaming as we took turns sipping it to warm ourselves. Yum! I notice you can get a glass of white wine there, and you can also get escargot already coated with herbed butter in the shell for preparation at home. I wanted to mention that none of the foods being served at the market were served in throwaway containers. Besides being more ecologially sound, the more important message seemed to be Sit Down and Enjoy...What's Your Hurry?!

So we did. After the girls chose their raspberries, we sat down at some tables near what I thought was a Greek place, since there were several varieties of baklava. We got some different kinds (almond, hazelnut, mixed nut) and then got hot mint tea in a glass, not a mug. That was when I realized, this was Moroccan food. It's so neat to see all the different places the vendors come from.

The girls loved the tea, and we went home to tell John about the market. He went back later in the afternoon and said it was just mobbed with people, so much that he couldn't possibly have bought anything, but now we know: if we're here on Saturday mornings, we will be doing our shopping first at the Bird Market, and filling in from the SuperGB, not backwards.

Oh--and remember the PTA Rave Party? While we were at the market, I heard "Hey!" and ignored it, because who the heck knows me here, anyway?! I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was the husband of the couple who so nicely drove me home that night. He does some marketing on Saturday mornings while his daughter is in ballet. It was nice to see him, and just nice to have the very familiar feeling of running into someone I know at the farmers' market. Next time we go, I promise to take pictures.

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