Visiting a farmer’s market in Auckland

The La Cigale Farmer’s Market is our first stop in Auckland – literally. With our Airbnb host at work until 5 pm, we’ve got nowhere to go and four hours after hitting the tarmac we’re walking up the steep streets of Parnell toward the market site.

We’re so early that the market is still setting up.

We haven’t been to a farmer’s market since we left the U.S., at least not as most people in the developed western world would imagine them. There are countless markets in South America where farmers bring their produce for sale, and we’ve wandered such markets in countries from Costa Rica to Chile. But in South America they were just called markets, and it’s not where you went every Saturday morning with baby and stroller in tow, it’s where you got food to make meals for your family or customers in your restaurant. That often meant you weren’t buying just one carrot, but one hundred.

Women selling breads and pastries at La Cigale Farmer’s Market.
A man makes Gozleme (a Turkish meat-filled pancake) at the market. Here, like in the U.S., you come to the farmer’s market as an experience and expect to sample exotic foods.

That’s a bit rough when you’re only in a place for a week at a time, but finding fresh produce at local mom-and-pop shops was also less of a problem. Here in Auckland, we’re back in the world of supermarkets, with their thousand-mile-travelled veggies that look a bit past their prime. And for most of us living in cities in the Western world, that’s where farmer’s markets fill the gap. Fresher food from nearer places and friendly people happy to chat as much as make a sale, all for a moderate premium on price. Oh, and pastries astronomically better than you’d find at any supermarket.

A peach and almond tart from the market
The last remnants of a potato flour-based roll. We forgot to take pictures before we had scarfed most of it down.

Did I mention that moderate price premium? At the end of three hours we’ve spent $55 NZD, which is about $40 USD and more than double our daily food budget through most of South America. Traveling in New Zealand will take some adjusting.

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