The first time I went to London, the first thing I did was visit Portobello Market. It was my first time to go to any kind of street market, and it blew me away. The idea of having a whole street dedicated to all kinds of merchandise, from fresh fruits and vegetables to antiques, music and clothes was mind-blowing.
However, the one thing that stuck with me was the raspberries. There was a pleasant old man on one corner selling fresh organic fruits. The strawberries caught my eye, along with the raspberries, so I bought them both. They were succulent, sweet and just perfect, because they were fresh.
Sadly, in Egypt, the only street markets we have are things like Khan El Khalili and the various other ones that sell trinkets and clothes, but we never had a farmer’s market. That was until Nūn came into the picture. The cultural centre first opened in 2012 in Zamalek, offering fitness and well being classes. Shortly after, they started a farmer’s market, which takes place every Saturday in Zamalek from 10am to 3pm.
The market features many items in addition to fresh produce; there are also dried fruits, organic dairy, natural candles and even oriental-design notebooks. The participating vendors vary from one week to another and the market always seems to be bringing something new to the neighbourhood. However, some of the regular vendors are Makkar Farms, Minnie’s dried fruits and vegetables and the local flower shops on the island.
One of the best buys is the fresh virgin olive oil that is made by a local farm in Fayoum, which tastes much better than the various imported ones found in supermarkets. However, it depends on what you are looking for, and what is available. Given that most of the things are produced organically, the availability is not always guaranteed. One week you might find asparagus, and another cherry tomatoes, it all depends on the seasons.
Sometimes you might even find someone selling cupcakes for those who allow a bit of indulgence in their diet. On Nūn’s website they describe the market as follows: “Our vendors bring fresh, organic vegetables that you can’t find anywhere else, delicious homemade jams, fresh virgin olive oil, and bread from a brick oven in Aswan. There is often music, and on some weeks we offer classes for children to teach them how to paint, how to plant a garden, or how to mould a pot.”