I’m mad about markets. There’s something about the cut and thrust of them that I love and respond to. I always think of markets as theatrical places, colourful and loud, lively and flamboyant. The stall holders shouting their wares, the barrow boys sweeping past with their loads, the chickens, ducks, flowers, fruit and vegetables – everywhere there is something happening, something to catch your eye, something to tempt. And, rather like a stage-production, the scenery in the market changes depending on which ever part of the globe you happen to find yourself in.
In Europe, markets tend to be outdoor affairs, but here in Jakarta, as far as I’ve seen they are mostly inside. The heat can be quite stifling and the smells take some getting used to, it’s definitely an assault on ones senses but oh so worth it as what greats you is a sight for sore eyes. Never in my life have I seen so many chilies, bags of rice, exciting looking condiments, plastic buckets, bras and knickers, mountains of avocados, and men, so many men all trying to sell me tea-towels and table napkins.
I could happily while away an entire day down at my local market in Tebet. It opens at 6.30am but by midday the butchers and fish market are nearly out of stock and only a few straggly chickens are left tethered to a crate. I can hardly bear to look at them. Right next to them is a meat cleaver ready to end their pathetic lives in just a single stroke. The butcher asks if I want one and makes a slitting throat gesture with his finger across his throat, I decline. Likewise the ducks cooped up in small wire cage, eating rice from a bowl. This is not the side of the market that I enjoy or wish to spend time in, but I’m including photos of it so that you can get a feel for the place.
The things that excite me are the fruit, vegetables and spices. There are still so many that I don’t know the names of, let alone how to cook but maybe one day I shall learn.