Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vredenburg Markt in Utrecht

I still have 2 more France travel entries to post: Rouen and Honfleur, the latter together with Le Mont Saint Michel were my favorite. I will post them soon after I have edited and uploaded the fotos online. For now, let me show you a bit of the open-air Vredenburg market on a Saturday in Utrecht Centrum.

Vredenburg Markt in Utrecht Centrum (you can't miss this when going to Bijenkorf) is open 3x a week during Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday is the busiest and the biggest market.

Dutch markets are not like their southern counterparts where lots of produce from the ground are brought on sale. There are very few fresh produce stands in the markets as most fruits and vegetables here come from other countries. The Netherlands import them as far as South America. The local farmers in the country are also directly contracted with supermarkets. This could perhaps be a preference as this business strategy yields steady income.

So if looking for fruits and vegetables, it’s better then to go to a supermarket as they have a wide variety available there. Always check the labels and see, “land van herkomst” on it, meaning land of origin. You will notice a lot of the produce are imported.

More fotos here: Vredenburg Markt, Utrecht - The Netherlands

Cheese vendor with all the yummy Dutch cheese and this man selling stroopwafels with Gouda recipe has been there on the same stand for years! Stroopwafels are again one of the typically Dutch treats. The waffles are pressed together with soft caramel melted in between. This is yummy but too sweet for me though.

Flowers are also not a big thing in Dutch markets, although there will always be 1 flower vendor present. I think this has something to do with flowers being a principal product all over the country. You do not need to go to a market to buy flowers because you can find them in your neighborhood anyway. There is always a flower vendor nearby. Or you can just pluck those flowers that grow on the roadside too.

The more common food products sold in the market are dairy-cheeses, baked goods, meat and seafood. The seafood though is not as impressive as I have for example seen in Spain or Greece. Most Dutch I noticed, like with fresh produce, prefer to buy meat and seafood that is already filleted and pre-packed in the supermarket. Even for chicken, they prefer fillet too.

It looks like practicality is the key thing here to understand the local’s buying habits.

Bakery stand... you might want to know that the Dutch are bread people. They eat bread for breakfast and lunch. Bread and cheese, day in day out. And Haring is another big thing in this country. The Hollandse Nieuwe, a type of haring with 16% fat is the most popular that many fishmongers and followers celebrate the yearly season when they are catched for public consumption.

While I was taking fotos of the sea food catches, a fishmonger who was quite friendly said, “Je bent zeker niet van de belastingdienst? Anders word ik echt eng!” I told him NEE so he laughed and told me to take fotos.

This also happened recently in Caen market in France when I was taking fotos of the dried sausages and this prickly man told me something in French and then switched to his broken English when he realized I don’t speak French at all. I only understood the word TAX that he kept repeating.

Hmm… this is the first time I have heard of the tax department going clandestine audit operation of markets.

Smoked fish (need to get their translation in English) and you can see behind jar bottles of sliced liver sausages and pickled fish. Next foto is the lekker kibbeling with other assortment of deep fried fish. They taste good when sprinkled with herbs mix with pepper and salt specially made for fish. I just discovered this the other week when I was here.

I guess the most fascinating part of the seafood section is the fresh “haring” (herring) and the fried “kibbeling” (cut pieces of cod fish deep fried). They truly represent Dutch gastronomy to the highest level! I love both! As a fish lover, I always do a haring and kibbeling treat from time to time.

Anyway, its Saturday today and I have to buy a couple of gifts in town... a friend had her birthday, my sister in law will be celebrating her birthday too soon, and another friend have invited us over to her housewarming party. Perhaps I will stop by the market and pleasure myself with some kibbeling!

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