Every town and city in Europe has its central market. Despite the invention of supermarkets and hypermarkets, there is still an open-air morning market at least once a week in every small and large town and city throughout Europe. I think it’s a great tradition and am happy to see that it still exists. I hope it never goes away. The open market and the daily fresh bread from the bakery are two things that America’s missing, in my opinion. New York City and other cities in America have tried to start a green market culture – New York has Union Square and other markets – but they frankly don’t even hold a candle to the local markets here. And the markets don’t just sell food – they sell clothes, shoes, candles, baskets, trinkets, you name it. Almost anything you can think of.
Larry often told me stories of the “tea lady”, an older woman who ran a stall filled with bags of mystery herbs and flowers. You would simply go up to her, describe whatever was ailing you, and she’d fill a bag with several handfuls of different items, and then give you instructions on how to take it. Feel a cold coming on? Go to the tea lady. Can’t sleep? Go to the tea lady. Larry and I stopped at the tea lady stall one day and asked for something to help us sleep better (foolishly thinking that this would keep us from staying up all night working on the computer!). The tea lady’s husband, who was minding the store that day, quickly filled a bag with various leaves and flower buds, and then told us to steep it for 30 minutes and take it 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. In brewing the tea later, I could tell that it had chamomile among other things in it. I have to say that it was delicious, and I slept like a rock.
One day as I was coming back from a hike up the castle hill I noticed a vending machine tucked into the corner of the market square. Upon closer inspection I discovered that it was a raw milk vending machine. I have seen these in other towns in Europe and think it’s brilliant. The farmers from the countryside surrounding the town fill up the milk machine with fresh, raw, unprocessed, unpasteruized, unskimmed milk. Straight from the cow. People can then come to the milk machine, any time of day or night, and fill either their own or a purchased container with fresh milk. Upon doing 5 minutes of internet research I quickly discovered that, like most things, milk is actually much more nutritious raw than the pasteurized/homogenized counterpart you can buy in the store. The processing takes out hundreds of beneficial bacterial that have been proven to help with everything from calcium metabolization to lactose digestion. (Many people who have a lactose intolerance can actually handle raw milk better). Larry and I quickly made a habit of getting our fresh milk from the Mlekomat and have loved it! Too bad you can’t find things like this in America.