Friends have ridiculed me for quite some time on account of the fact that I once spent £8 on an aubergine in Borough Market. So embarrassing! I’m still ashamed. I was younger, a bit overwhelmed by the whole BM experience, and handed over the money as though in a trance. When I came to my senses on the way home, I bloody well kicked myself – ok, it was a lovely shade of violet and quite a weird shape, but for God’s sake, there’s never any need to pay £8 for an aubergine. It wasn’t gold plated, and tasted no different to any other aubergine I’d eaten before.
However, nothing tops my hubby’s spectacular overspend in a Brussels food market last weekend – he was fleeced to the tune of 30 Euros for 2 rustic cured sausages. Thirty ruddy Euros – that’s basically a similar amount in pounds, given the currently abysmal exchange rate! And he didn’t even taste a sample before buying…if I hadn’t been so distracted by the pastries at the adjoining stall, I would have rugby tackled him. His excuse is that he was so excited at being understood in French, he didn’t realise what he was doing. Still, once the shock had subsided, we had a good laugh about it. Well, you have to, don’t you? Either that, or punch the stall owner.
Anyway – wonderful Brussels. We ate and drank rather a lot. Not the usual moules frites and such like, but a lot of cheese, ham and waffles. The food market where the ‘sausage-themed daylight robbery’ took place was quite different to farmers’ markets in this country – since the UK is a relative newcomer to the farmers’ market scene, we have to try a lot harder to attract people away from the supermarkets using props to highlight the produce: nice tablecloths, cute blackboards, a few hay bales here and there. In Brussels, and also many towns in France, there is a much more ‘laissez faire’ attitude to making markets look pretty because people have years and years of practice and the tradition of cultivating good produce is ingrained in their food heritage. At this particular market in Brussels, there were hardly any concessions to rustic cuteness – food was lugged out of the back of minivans and shoved out onto crates in and among closed fairground rides. Not one lace tablecloth in sight – and that’s because the produce pretty much speaks for itself. Lucky Belgians!
Here’s a a few photos of the food market we visited:
Strawberry stall next to fairground rides:
Cheeses flavoured with Belgian beers:
Loaf of bread bigger than a dog:
Meat stall: note ‘oiseaux sans tete’ which means ‘headless birds’:
The lady wearing the waxed coat took so long to choose her bread, I thought I was going to faint from hunger; pony-tailed dude took his time serving her. The Belgians never hurry:
Anyway, dear readers, I’m curious: what’s the most ludicrous amount of money you’ve ever spent on an item of food and drink? Post answers below…