We were greeted in the carpark by the inescapable loud-speaker rant of an oddball preacher. Egypt and a plague and God’s people and stuff. When we left he was still on Egypt. I think maybe he’s doing the Old Testament at the speed at which it actually took place. From preachers to plastic Pokemons to pork buns, the Otara Markets has whatever it may be that you want.
I’m a seasoned Avondale Markets goer, but Otara, I think, has more personality than its westie cuz. It’s a more reliable expression of Pacific Auckland, with stalls selling T-Shirts emblazoned with tongue in cheek Island statements and a roaring trade in fresh coconut cream. There’s actually less tat than at Avo, and more purveyors of food: those pork buns; fried dumplings; souvlakis; chop suey; Fritz’s Weiners and Pukeko Bakery are there. A steak and onion roll was just what the drizzly grey morning ordered, its unctuous gravy dripping all over my baby pink shoes which had only just been rescued from the previous week’s encounter with a takeaway coffee at Mister Morning. It’s not posh nosh, but that’s not what you come here for.
Pleasant finds included green papaya (I cannot leave a good produce market without at least one, to make som tam), fresh oyster mushrooms, fresh dill, curry leaves, strawberry plants, and cucumbers that weren’t priced out of a poor freelancer’s reach. (I still don’t really get why telegraph cucumbers are so expensive in winter, when aren’t they just grown in hothouses year round?) Oh, and a big bag of oily, highly addictive prawn crackers.
There’s just the one aisle of fresh produce, but that one aisle has everything you’d need, so it’s like a compact version of Avondale, that doesn’t take an hour to shuffle round amid crowds of pushy people. That said, I’ll still be trekking to Avondale more often than Otara, I think, purely because I don’t quite feel I’ve had a proper market experience without feeling fatigued at the end of it. And the hippy guitar-strumming preacher woman at the entrance to Avondale isn’t quite as grating as Otara man’s Old Testament wrath.
Newbury St, Otara