• John Gratto

February 10, 2012—A Farmers’ market like no other

Updated: Feb 18

Most communities I have lived in have a Farmers’ Market, usually on Saturday mornings where farmers sell their wares. They are generally the same—lots of fruits, vegetables, honey, jams, and other local products.

Zadar’s City market is on a whole other planet. First, it is held every day, not just on Saturday’s. Although on Sunday’s, only about a fourth of the booths are occupied. The abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables dwarfs anything I have seen at my local farmers’ markets. Actually, I am not all that familiar with fruits and vegetables because I hardly ever eat them. But I did recognize many of them. There were probably 50 different stalls all selling similar products.

They also had such as walnuts and chestnuts. Yes, chestnuts. You can buy them in bulk at the City Market and roasted from street vendors. Apparently, the chestnut blight that decimated American chestnut trees has not occurred in this part of the world.

At one of the stalls, I wanted to buy some oranges that were so fresh that they still had part of the stem attached to them. The friendly vendor understood my request and accommodated my inability to speak Croatian with just enough English and patience that he was able to sell me three oranges. My purchase resulted in my receiving a 5 Kuna coin as change.

At another stall, I noticed eggs just piled up on plates rather than in egg cartons as is the norm in the states. With my 5 Kuna coin (worth about 30 cents in U.S. value) I asked the egg man how many eggs could be purchased for 5 Kuna. Two, was his answer. So, I bought just two eggs. Really fresh eggs like this are different than those normally purchased in a grocery store. The yolk is a brighter orange color rather than a yellow color.

But agricultural products were just part of the sprawling City market. If you needed a coat, shoes, hat, crocs, underwear, or soccer jerseys of your favorite Croatian players, you could get them there.

Surrounding the City market were about a half dozen butcher shops with various cuts of meat hanging or neatly displayed in cases. I observed patrons chatting with butchers and butchers with their meat cleavers and strong arms slicing off the requested amount of meat. There were so many butcher shops in the same proximity to each other that I wondered how some of them stay in business. They all seemed the same—all about the same size and selling the same products. The same could be said for the multitude of bread and pastry shops. But they all seem to be thriving.

You could buy this at one of the Butcher Shops at the City market in Zadar

And fish! There was an entire warehouse filled with fish, all laid out on ice ready to be scooped into a bag and brought home. Big fish several feet long. Minnow-like fish and every size in between. Shrimp with their tentacles still on. Vendors were calling out to me as I passed by. It was quite a sight, something I had never experienced before.

Zadar City Market. You can buy almost anything here.