La Reine Farmers’ Market
Posted on December 8, 2013
Today, our gracious landlord offered to take us to one of the bigger local Saturday farmers’ markets. K and I have been enjoying playing house, so we were excited at this chance to stock our empty refrigerator with organic fruits and veggies. It took us about 15 minutes to drive to the neighborhood of La Reine to get to this open-air market filled with local Crucians who were happy to sell their gardens’ produce overflow.
Once we got there, my eyes feasted on the all the colors of the fresh harvests. It made me feel happy, especially after being so disheartened with what was lacking at the local grocery store located near our apartment. Walking through the vendor aisles became an experience for us, complete with unusual sights, sounds, and smells. I found the scene somewhat reminiscent of farmers’ markets back in Hawaii with stands filled with a rainbow-colored array of tropical fruits and veggies.
I was only able to recognize a few of the goods that were laid out on the tables. So our market visit turned into a big Q&A for K and I as we tried to figure out the names and potential tastes of all the different produce, spices, and plants. Our ears were still training themselves to the Crucian tongue, but we still learned a lot. The locals were kind enough to give us tips and recipes for cooking up the produce we were inquiring about. There was one particular interaction with a lady that I remember — “TASTE! Eet’s sugar-apple,” she said, after noticing that we were watching her nibble the mysterious fruit in her hand. We each took a small bite of this yellow pulpy and seedy fruit. Its flavor was dead-on with its name, like a sugar-injected apple. Like candy. Too bad she didn’t have any near-ripe ones to sell. I made a mental note for next visit.
There was another section separated from the produce vendors where the local fishermen sold their early morning’s catch. The smell of the fish stands was not as foul as I was expecting it to be on that hot day. I suppose it was because the catch was so fresh that the sun didn’t have enough time to bake up a fishy stench. Good sign. Bright-eyed tropical saltwater fish were put on ice in big blue coolers. K sized-up a red snapper that he bought and took to another stand to be cleaned and gutted.
In the end, we decided to take home with us two bags filled with more familiar vegetables: green beans, eggplants, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and kale. Our fruit represented a more exotic spread – local papayas, starfruit, cucumbers, a hybrid fruit with flavors of lime and tangerine, and small apple-sized fruits with a taste like guava. We vowed to return next Saturday to try out more unfamiliar ones and also buy a bag of those amazing sugar apples. Farmers’ market shopping = success!