Since I am interested not only in cooked food but the ingredients that go into a recipe I wanted to check out the Friday market that happens weekly in Mapusa (pronounced map’-sa). It is the largest city in northern Goa. A (part time) farm manager by day, I am interested in all aspects of creating food, from soil conservation, fertilizer use and methods of farming to chopping, spicing and cooking a delicious entrée. I am interested in food from end to end.
We hired a driver and car to take us to Mapusa. As we approached the market I realized it was huge based on the number of motorcyces lined up along the periphery. I couldn’t wait to get inside to see what was for sale.
I found vendors selling clothing and textiles for the home, shoes, ropes, brooms, plastic storage bins and buckets. Some sold lovely antiques and beautiful silver jewelry. I purchased two silver coated wooden elephants for my adult children. After haggling a bit on the price, I left the booth with my prizes. Haggling is the way business is done here so it becomes a game to see how successful one can be at negotiating the best price. The vendors were very friendly and wanted to me to buy everything even though I didn’t need or want it. How would I carry one of everything from every vendor in the market home in my suitcase?
Several vendors sold dried, ground spices like turmeric, chile powder and cumin. Of course they all sold saffron. (I bought another 5 or 6 grams because I now know that I hadn’t been using it liberally enough in the past. See my post Dubai’s Incredible Spice Souk. I also saw many masalas, or spice blends, that I really wanted to try but wasn’t sure I could get it through Customs. I did buy some garlic chile masala with kokum in it that could be used to season almost any meat dish and looked really tasty.
I was intrigued by the varieties of tea that were for sale. I expected to see different grades and types of black tea. Oh no. I saw black tea, green tea, white tea and herbal tea as well as different flavors of these teas (masala, chocolate, strawberry, pineapple, jasmine,…). I simply had to pick up some lemongrass tea and strawberry black tea. My next stop is what floored me.
At one end of the market, all of the produce vendors set up their stands. I was amazed at the quantity and quality of the produce. There were several aisles packed with vendors; I couldn’t even count the number. Huge heads of cauliflower, ripe red tomatoes and piles of carrots went on and on. One vendor had a mountain of green beans that rose above his waist! Another vendor had over a hundred stems of bananas ready to be cut and sold. So much fresh food was available. I wondered if all of this food would be sold but I realized that it was Friday and people needed to purchase items to cook over the weekend. Somehow I think that the market would be close to empty by end of the day.
Filled with tourists, neighbors and locals, the market was a lot of fun for everyone. I believe that the prices I paid were quite reasonable and far lower than I would have paid elsewhere. I had a great time at the market. Unfortunately my husband had to drag me away so we could get to the airport in time to catch our flight.
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