Every Saturday morning, Mowgli and I have a bit of private culture. We’re going to the market.
That’s actually nothing special, but for me in this case it is. Because our beloved organic shop has closed. Quite a while ago. For reasons of age.
This wasn’t just a health food store. It was a meeting point, an oasis of humanity in the stony desert of the big city. A small, excellently stocked shop where people met, chatted and received expert advice if they wanted. The offer was exclusively vegetarian and vegan, so that you didn’t have to spend hours reading small print labels to look for unwanted ingredients from the dead animal. You could trust. Here, ideas were exchanged and advice shared on how to treat physical ailments. On Thursdays you met the people who prefer to go shopping on Thursdays, and on Fridays you met the Friday people. At least most. A piece of culture. When the store closed, there were many tears, literally.
Of course there are many organic shops. The “supply” here in the Ruhr area is actually quite good. And there is also the internet. But this is normal shopping, anonymous and earmarked. That’s okay too, especially since the rich offer gives a feeling of paradise.
However, I was missing something: the humanity, the recognition of the same people, the communication. That you somehow know each other. Then I discovered that at our very small weekly market on Saturdays, an organic farmer offers his own products and those he has bought in organic quality. I liked that.
Since then, every Saturday morning, even now in winter, I hang Mowgli’s leash on my bike and off I go towards the market. Mowgli loves this. At first he gallops happily, but concentrated, alongside, of course, on the right side away from traffic. It’s only a short distance on normal road, then I say: “Attention, right!” and Mowgli turns right onto the bike path. Most of the way goes through the pedestrian zone, where cycling is partially allowed. After half a kilometer, Mowgli usually falls into his long-distance trot until I have to dismount and walk the bike.
Before we leave the house, I fill my pocket with change. I can now use that on the pedestrian zone. An old man stands here with his violin and plays with his hands frozen red, accurately and beautifully, every Saturday in any weather. There are two sitting there, one with an accordion, the other with a guitar. someone sings i love street music It gives a city a very special atmosphere. That’s what I liked about Ljubljana, where you can hear good quality music on every corner.
On another corner, a heap of misery sits on the floor with a cardboard sign describing personal distress. Man’s face lights up for a bag of buns.
The farmer stands behind his crates between the “Hungarian Dances” by Johannes Brahms and “Lambada”. He must be pretty hardy because he can withstand the cold for hours. With a good eye for quantities, he weighs his vegetables and fruit and dumps them into my bag. Sensitive things like mushrooms come in a paper bag. Then he writes the price on his pad with a pencil and at the end adds up the items in his head. Sometimes he rounds the price down in my favor or gives me a piece of fruit on top. We chat a little when no other customers are waiting. Here, too, you meet the same people, many friendly, humorous, some outgoing. Mowgli also likes to get in touch and I have to stop him from poking his nose in the other people’s shopping baskets.
I always buy enough to eat for a week. There is often something left over. Nothing is wrapped in plastic or even shrink-wrapped. This plastic rubbish doesn’t stop at organic shops either, and that bothers me a lot. Especially if there are good alternatives.
With a bulging shopping bag and very satisfied we start our way home. At home we share some walnuts. Nuts are also healthy for dogs (except macadamia nuts and bitter almonds – these varieties are toxic to dogs! Black nuts are also taboo due to possible fungal contamination.). Mowgli loves her. He’s really good at snapping and I throw the pieces straight into his mouth. We have a lot of fun with it.
While I’m stocking up on my groceries, I’m already planning a few menus. I’m going to cook today’s kale with potatoes and then mash it. Mowgli will be happy if he gets some too, so I’ll add the spices later. What is left is filled into a glass and used as a spread.
Next week we’re doing our Saturday trip again.