One of the biggest pleasures of living in the West End is the Saturday farmers’ market in Davies Park. It’s a microcosm of the ethnic and cultural diversity that makes Brisbane so fun. The first dilemma lies in the choice of coffee vendor. Closest is a cute antique VW bus, complete with striped awning, somehow housing an espresso machine; alas, their brew is weak. My favorite barista inhabits the gypsy wagon under the shade of a large Ficus tree with drinkers sipping their flat whites while resting on curved buttress roots and listening to nearby folk singers.
The next challenge is food. Shall we indulge in Traditional Dutch Poffertjes, a freshly baked almond croissant or get a Big Brekky in The Nest? Other stalls sell Hungarian Lepe’ny made with chicken and paprika, fresh Turkish flat bread, filled with spinach and cheese, and Greek kabobs, falafel and gyros. Leah can’t resist the Nuttella crepes, but I’m tempted by the German sausages.
Lemonade leads to more choices, which each table claiming the best. My favorite is prepared fresh by a mixed couple who grind the sugar cane before your eyes and accent the lemon or lime juice with bit of mint.
Other vendors sell prepared food. A sun-weathered south African touts his home recipe for chili Biltong and dry Wors; free samples made me a loyal patron. I was initially interested in a man selling lamb jerky before I realized he was after a different clientele. The sign “Pet treats” should have clued me in, but a closer look at trotters, pigs ear tucker and rawhide chews quelled my appetite.
The fresh fish, meat, cheese, butter and produce stall occupy much of the market, but all is not food. You can choose between a personal reading, eyebrow shaping, traditional Chinese massage or henna. Maybe buy some incense or crystals? There’s also less exotic fare: hand-made clothes, knitting, leather-ware, jewelry and the like. The atmosphere is festive with didgeridoo players and other musicians spaced about.
Vendors set up stalls in the crisp air at 5am and shopping starts early. By 9:30 the narrow lane has become so viscous with people that purposeful motion is almost excruciating and (worse) the lines for coffee have become clogged with contenders. But by noon the crowd has thinned and vendors are packing up. “Wait!” I think silently “I’m not yet quite hungry enough for lunch!”