The Inner West Market Experience

by mutteringhousewife

I feel very left wing going to the markets. Nuts to you, big corporations, I’m cutting out the middle man! I don’t get to go very often, Orange Grove Markets are on Saturday mornings which generally coincides exactly with four or five sporting fixtures. Not this weekend, though, so once I’ve settled the tiler and his apprentice in, I’m away.

I am a bit fascinated by the stalls. I used to have a semi regular market stall myself, selling handmade jewellery, which usually did very poorly, but I had a wonderful time watching my fellow stall holders. At Orange Grove they are mostly food stalls. Lots of fruit and veg, all of which seem to be doing well. Some are organic and I’ve found the quality of their produce to be variable. There’s one stall I particularly like, run by a bunch of youngsters that look like they may share a commune, because their fruit and veg looks a lot like it hasn’t come from a factory and they have stuff you don’t see anywhere else. I got some pink baby carrots, some purple pears and some really tiny Fuji apples from them.

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There are a few stalls selling dips and condiments that don’t seem to do very well. How many dips do you need in a week? Also, if I want a dip or a condiment I can make it myself, I may have mentioned that I have a Thermomix. The bread and baked good stalls do well. There are two smoked seafood operations, obviously a growing market. I never see anyone buying the tapioca desserts. The egg and bacon roll stall is ridiculously successful, with a line that snakes around the market.

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The non food stalls have mixed success. I feel sorry for the silver and gemstones jewellery lady, there’s never anyone even stopping to look. She doesn’t have prices displayed, which puts me off. There’s also a lady with racks of what looks like hand made kids’ tunics, no ones stopping there either. The stall that looks like someone’s been through the dumpster at the back of a failing hardware shop attracts a steady stream of elderly men in hats, looking for the perfect pair of shop soiled secateurs. The hemp stall seems to do well. I’ve bought the hemp soap a few times, it’s very lovely but soft, it doesn’t last very long. I’m going to buy some when I have a new bathroom, whenever that may be. There was a vintage clothes stall there that I haven’t seen before. I bought a brocade jacket there because it was my colour, but a bit large around the waist. I could move the buttons, or take it in, it isn’t lined.

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Muffet said “no offence, but that’s an old lady jacket”. Well then, no offence taken.

I’m actually there for the Honest to Goodness stall. I get the five grain mix for my porridge, on the advice of a friend, sultanas and currants for all the fruit loaf I’m making at the moment, and they don’t have ginger at the stall, only at their unappealing showroom. That’s a shame, I’ve got an ultra ginger loaf that I really want to make.

And this is the thing about the markets. It’s hard to do a regular shop there, you just don’t know what’s not going to be there. This is far outweighed by seeing what’s in season (silver beet and radishes at the moment), having access to extremely fresh produce, supporting small businesses and sticking it to the man. Can’t wait to go back.

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