Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The farmer's market in Vevey, Switzerland
I love reading about other people's splendid farmers' markets. Probably because I am not so happy with mine: the Kollwitzmarket has had its days. While real farmers' markets open in the dawn, this one is built up at 10 am. There are two serious vendors for vegetables and fruits next to one decent stall for cheese and one for fresh pasta. The rest are imho bits and bobs with no special links to Berlin or Brandenburg. As to the clientele you spot more buggies, tourists and dandering folks (commonly ridiculed as the Bionade-Biedermeier fraction) than serious buyers. I am usually done with my round in fifteen minutes and directly head to the stores to procure what was not available at the market. And gee, is that frustrating.
I know that I am not at all in a position to whine. I have read about supermarket shortages in American cities, especially in NYC and learned that food supply in big cities is not a matter of course. Let alone local produce supply.
And I read the fabulous blog of Bridget's who bakes and cooks the most fabulous things in the deserts of New Mexico. Or of Jen's, who lives in the mountains of Colorado. They have to find their ways, too.
But I also watched Catherine visiting her farmer's market in LA and was staggered. I mean, how hard is it to make good food when you can get everything fresh and local?
Last weekend I visited another market that marvels me again and again. Vevey is a small town at Lake Geneva with view of the spectacular Valais Alps and the Mont Blanc massif. Twice a week this charming farmers' market takes place at the town's center.
Two reasons why my Swiss food experiences belong to the best ones:
The great quality of local produce and the lack of affordable gastronomy.
As to the latter: nowhere in whole of Switzerland you can order and scarf down a menu for ten bucks and I believe that is why all my Swiss friends are dedicated home cooks, bakers and creative picnicers :)
As to the former: I can tell from a Korean cooking experience in the Swiss mountains that gathering exotic produce is very difficult there. But in return, the range of regional specialities and organic produce of excellent quality is abundant. You never hear of mass production and overproduction. Instead, most of what is produced there seems to be consumed within the country. (That's why it is so hard get a bottle of wine from the lovely Lavaux region in foreign stores btw.)
My host told me that recently the Swiss take regional produce even more serious so that in the two big supermarket chains (Migros and Coop) you can get produce from within the community (!) border.
I returned with a handful of chocolate candies, some cheese (Gruyère, Vacherin Fribourgeois, Sbrienz), herbs and spices in the luggage and wished to have less choices but more locally linked produces at home.