On Wednesday I had a few errands to run in the city centre. As I got off the tram I noticed nothing out of the ordinary – I was extremely anxious to go home to pack for the Easter holidays and did not care to stop for the sights I had seen countless times before. It was on my way back to the tram stop, however, that my eyes were opened: there was an animated and colourful market in the Old Market Square.
I decided to venture into the market, eager to find out what the commotion was about. As I got closer, I noticed that there were several country flags, including South Africa, Jamaica, France and the Netherlands. The stall closest to me was filled with bouquets of flowers, and as I walked through the market I saw other artisanal stalls, including jewellery and matryoshka dolls. There was also a wide range of food stalls, ranging from currywurst to churros to noodles. Despite the disjointed range of global cuisines, each stall had its own isolated smell: the crêpe stalls were a sweet mix of pancake batter and nutella; the assortment of red meat stalls were small barbequeues; and the churros stall was a memory of home.
I walked around, attempting to absorb the culture and cuisine shocks throughout the market, marvelling at the intricate crafts from across the globe. It struck me that, despite the shocks, the market was cohesive and ultimately united as one market, hosted by Market Place Europe LTD and branded “A World of Markets”. There were seating areas outside a few of the food stalls where visitors sat, eating and drinking while relaxing on their Wednesday afternoon. The market reminded me of the unity between nations at a time where said unity appears to be falling apart.
My friend told me that the market reminded her of the Portuguese Food Festival in Jersey; the atmosphere was, indeed, similar to the one at the annual festival on the island, although I noted the severe lack of Portuguese culture in the international market whereas the name of the Food Festival in Jersey rightly states that the content is entirely Portuguese, although everyone is welcome. The Portuguese Food Festival is a prime example of a community united outside of their homeland; the international market, however, is a prime example of unity between communities which can be enjoyed by all.
In short, I was pleasantly surprised on this particular Wednesday to find the market. In the roughly 20 minutes that I was there I was able to gain an insight into various crafts and gastronomies from around the world and I lamented that I did not have time to sit down and enjoy a crêpe or a currywurst. I believe that it’s important for markets and other initiatives like this to exist, in particular when current global affairs are leaving many people in despair, in order to remind people of the unity between nations and to not lose hope for a better future.
Izi Bella x