It’s not often enough I manage to drag my sorry Sunday self out to the weekly markets at Avondale Racecourse. I really should go every week, and so should you if, like me, you live in Auckland and love to buy fruit, vegetables and herbs at their freshest – and cheapest.
The only problem I have is fitting everything in the fridge when I get home…
Yesterday I went with my husband, our baby girl strapped to his back in her Ergo Carrier (she loves it), and my sister. A family trip. Every time I go to the market, I discover something new. This time I found a stall selling odd-looking vegetables, all with health claims proudly listed. Burdock, teeny tiny berry-sized purple potatoes, unusual varieties of spinach. Some of them looked foraged – all the rage in the UK right now but the elderly Chinese lady at Avondale has been doing it for years.
Chillies abound at the market – powerful wee Thai ones, gentle long green ones and everything in between. We didn’t find any jalapenos this time but my bought bird’s eye chillies for that night’s meal and some emerald-coloured mid-size chillies which my husband is busy pickling right now.
Avondale Markets are the only place I have ever found green papaya for sale in Auckland. Every week, in the North-West corner of the market, the Fiji-Indian stallholders have three or four offerings of papaya in different stages of ripeness. We go straight for the hard green ones, and whisk them home with hot chillies to make Som Tam. It’s pretty much my favourite dish ever. I’m not a fan of ripe papaya, and while green papaya has little in the way of flavour, it carries the sour, sweet and spicy tastes in Som Tam and has a crunch like no other vegetable. I have yet to come across a Thai restuarant in NZ that actually uses papaya in Som Tam. They all use carrot, cucumber or sometimes even apple as a replacement, as green papaya can be hard to get. But let me tell you they are just not the same. So here’s an idea for all Thai restaurants here – pop along to Avondale and score yourself fresh green papaya. It’s so worth the trip. – SWEET