One of the joys of my five streets is the weekend market, so early this morning I did my week’s shopping. I started at the bakery, buying bread and appel flapjes (apple in a triangle of pastry) and worked my way back home with increasingly heavy bags.
I picked up some juicy fish, rodebaars (perch) for dinner. The guys running the stall are comedians, unfortunately their wit is wasted as my Dutch just isn’t up to it. I smile anyway and head to the cheese stall.
The Netherlands are famous for cheese-making, and Dutch people eat a lot of cheese, about 15 kg per person per year. I’m also a cheese fan, just not of Gouda or Edam, for me the textures are too soapy. So I choose a pecorino, a manchego with rosemary and some mozzerella. The cheese men must be brothers, they look and sound so alike, and they have an amazing selection of cheeses from around Europe. Cheese is measured out in grams or ‘fingers’ indicating the width of the slice he should cut.
The market is a busier now and there’s a steady hum of people chatting. Somewhere in the distance I can hear a violin playing something with a sweet Irish lilt. Over the top of all of this come the calls of the sellers.
I select fresh vegetables and fruit; cheaper here and definately better quality than the local supermarkets, and head for my favourite stall. It’s a flower stall, with a sweet-natured motley dog, and it’s my last stop for the morning. Although the market stretches the full length of Lindengracht I can buy everything I need within about 50 metres. In early summer there’s a rainbow of tulips, and later luscious peonies. This time of year there are roses, dahlias, delphiniums, sunflowers and artichoke flowers, I take home some exotic pink columbines and some painted looking gerberas.
Lindengracht is named for the canal that’s not there anymore. It was filled in during a spate of modernisation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Instead it’s a somewhat less inspiring carpark. There are a lot of restaurants along the street, mostly Spanish, Italian, or South American. Including one place “La Luna” that sometimes has Flamenco dancing performances. The restaurants all set tables outside during summer, giving the street a lively social atmosphere.