I always wanted to say “We interrupt our blog on travelling through the Himalayas to bring you breaking news on the market in Frankfurt”. Now that I have a chance, I’ll grab it.
One of the attractions of Frankfurt is the fresh produce market known as the Kleinmarkthalle, meaning the Little Market Hall. I walked into this place on a cold day in November. The market was bustling. I was quite surprised to see the kind of fruits and vegetables on display. When I first visited Germany many years ago you could only get potatoes and carrots in winter. Today I found fresh summer fruits: apricots, berries, even spring produce like strawberries. Paces away were the mushrooms of autumn. I really wished I was not in a hotel, but living in an apartment with its own kitchen. My personal favourite is the yellow trumpet shaped mushrooms called pfefferlinge in German and chanterelle in French. I walked very slowly around the market enjoying the memories each thing brought back.
The baker’s stalls were full of traditional delights. Bakers in Germany have a daily cycle. In the mornings you’ll find the fresh rolls which are so delicious when you cut them open for a long, leisurely, breakfast. There are also other, sweeter, options for different morning lifestyles: good for a quick bag to carry with your coffee on the way to work. Closer to lunchtime the breads give way to sweets: the wonderful German cakes which you see in the photo above. These stay till afternoon tea is over. Then breads reappear: the loaves of warm dark breads which go so well, specially, with the soups and stews which warm you in winter. I find that I always slow down when I walk past a baker’s in Germany.
And then there are the wonderful meat shops. This one must have been very special, because the queue in front of it did not disappear as long as I was in the market. The signboard says birds and game. I did not look closely at it because I would be overcome by pangs of regret at the absence of a kitchen. Instead I wandered past to stalls which served hot lunches. I looked around and chose a plate of matjesfilet with boiled potatoes and a glass of white wine. Matjes is herring which is first ripened for a couple of days after it is caught and then lightly salted and preserved in vinegar with herbs. It is served cold. On this bitterly cold day, the accompanying warm potatoes felt good. The wine was a Rhine valley Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), a fairly typical pairing with the Matjes.
With the main part of my lunch done, and at a wonderful cost, I prowled the market again. This is Frankfurt: so there were stalls selling apple wine (not fizzy like cider), and various herb sauces, some of them combinations which are very local. The people at the stalls are good sales people, and are happy to let you taste. Many of them speak English pretty well. If you are interested in conversation but your German is not very good, it still breaks the ice if you start with a few words in German and then switch to English. After this tasting, I walked back to the baker’s and picked up a portion of a red-berry cake. At the center of the market hall is the most important stand: the one which serves coffee. A large espresso goes really well with the cake. This fortified me enough that I was ready to walk back out into the cold and wander around the old town of Frankfurt.