I have heard of early mornings, but still struggle to grasp the concept.
Mary wanted to get to our local growers’ market before the crowd. If you have ever stood at a produce stall and watched shoppers inspect each piece of fruit, you may have observed that each rejected piece is just dropped, thereby damaging not only that piece, but also the others below. So an early start (whatever that is) was required.
It was still dark as we parked on Rutherford Street, just over the stop bank from the Riverside Market. Each Saturday morning, growers from as far afield as Otaki and Levin drive through the darkness and set up their stalls at about 6am. In theory, selling doesn’t start until 7am but I have yet to see a stallholder refuse a sale to an early customer.
From the top of the stopbank, the overwhelming impression is of the vast quantity of food on display. Of course the commonplace fruit and vegetables are there in bulk, but also some interesting specialist items such as bitter melon, daikon radish and taro. Some of the Chinese varieties of cabbage such as bok choy, and choy sum are becoming commonplace, but as I said, the overwhelming impression is the volume in this “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”*
Mary did the shopping. I trailed along hauling our big wheeled shopping bag in one hand and shooting images with the other. By 7:30 am it was almost full daylight.
So many potential customers in one place attract other vendors. Hot food stalls sell everything from burgers and fries to such dietary nightmares as fried bread, churros, or hot doughnuts. I was almost tempted by the offer of a whitebait fritter for a mere $7 (!), but I had already had my breakfast and my scales are already issuing final warnings.
A very high-tech portable stall with extractor fans and ovens was selling Hungarian “chimney cakes” and though they looked delicious my resolve withstood the temptation. Specialist meat stalls, one selling vacuum packed venison, another selling lamb packs, yet another offering fish, filleted or whole, were doing brisk trade. An “Espresso Rescue” vendor was offering coffee from a bright green caravan.
So I returned from this strange far-off land of “early morning”, and after the groceries were unpacked, succumbed to the temptation of a good coffee and a season hot cross bun.
*John Keats, Ode to Autumn