Monday, October 27, 2014

Market Day In Salisbury

Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days in Salisbury. The markets are held in Market Place (logically enough), not far from the Highgate exit from the cathedral close, and they have been selling goods in that open space for well over 750 years. The narrow streets called Ox Row, Butcher Row, and Fish Row show where vendors grouped themselves; the stone canopy of the Poultry Cross still marks the traditional location for sellers of hens and capons and eggs (though the vendors ignore tradition, these days). Cheese Cross has disappeared under newer buildings, leaving only a commemorative plaque behind, but you can still walk along Oatmeal Row and its 16th-century houses and shops.

It's not just food and produce vendors in the market, but I wasn't looking for shoes or yarn or area rugs or pet supplies. I wasn't really looking for anything in particular, but I enjoyed the looking anyway. There were fewer stalls offering fresh produce than I had expected, and more baked goods. A few local butchers offered pork and chicken and wild game, and when I went back for the bigger farmer's market during the Food & Drink Festival, there were foraged wild mushrooms for sale, as well as three times as many vendors selling prepared foods: Thai, Mexican, and several "American" booths selling BBQ pulled pork and hamburgers.

I caught the tail end of Wet Picnic's performance of their "Time for Tea" piece, which involved a young man dancing around with a rubber udder strapped to his front. And now I wonder what sort of spike in visitors this blog will experience due to the search term "rubber udder" ...

And speaking of dairy, of course I stopped at the cheese stalls, particularly those that sold goat cheese. No one seemed too interested in hiring me, but I had a nice chat with the owner of Loosehanger Farmhouse Cheeses (cow and goat milk from outside dairies, made at a facility 9 miles southwest of Salisbury) and the owner of Nut Knowle Farm (who raise their own goats and make cheese about 100 miles away, southeast of London). I tasted the Loosehanger cheese flavored with wild garlic, Allium ursinum (bear's garlic in the UK, l'ail des ours in France). Although there are masses of wild garlic every spring in SW England, Loosehanger use dried garlic from eastern Europe; Ukraine, I think he told me from underneath his Wisconsin Cheeseheads orange wedge hat. I didn't taste any of the goat cheeses from Nut Knowle Farm but I'd like to talk with them more, since they're making a nice wide range of cheese. There were a lot of customers at this stand, so I didn't want to take up too much of his time. The next time I come over to the UK, it will be to make cheese. Somewhere on this island there is, or will be, one or more goat dairies with cheese producers who want to employ me, and I will find them - or we will find each other - when the time is right.

Plans, like the best cheese, need time to mature.

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