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Posts Tagged ‘street artists’

Shuk HaCarmel fruits and veggies

When I was a kid, every Saturday morning my Dad would get up at the crack of dawn to go to market. Yup, he was was the official cook of the family. He would return about an hour later laden with all sorts of goodies: prawns still jumping around in the basket, mud crabs snapping their claws, and squid so fresh you could see their spots blinking on and off like Christmas lights (they truly do that!).

He would then rouse us kids from bed and start designating tasks — that’s how we all learned to cook. By the time eight o’clock came around, steaming dishes would be making their way from the kitchen to the dining table, one after another like a grand lauriat feast. Saturday breakfast was always a grand affair in our family, as was Sunday lunch, but that’s a whole other story.

My dad took me to market with him only once or twice, but it was a lesson I never forgot. We always got our food from the wet market; fresh, cheap, and from sources we knew (suki). Buying meat and vegetables from supermarkets was an alien concept that came much, much later in adulthood.

That lesson has served us well here…. There are plenty of supermarkets that can make shopping so much easier and more…er…. sanitary, I suppose. But buying from the wet market always costs less, and it pays to know the people who sell your food. It also helps, of course, if the market is a tourist attraction.

Shuk HaCarmel (literally: The Carmel Market) is one such market. R and I buy our groceries there at least once a month (I used to do it weekly, until I just didn’t have the time).

A few of our local friends are surprised when we say we do our groceries there. They say the place is dirty. Well, dirty is relative. Apparently they’ve never been to Central Market or Burgos Market.

Shuk HaCarmel garden nursery

This is my favorite garden store. Staying a few minutes here is like going to the bookstore…. It never ends well for my wallet. This is where we bought the herbs and vegetables in our garden. We still go back for soil, planter boxes, and the occasional splurging on plants. R always tries to distract me whenever we walk by this store.

Shuk HaCarmel Mushrooms

We call the owner of this store “the mushroom guy” because this is where we get our fresh mushrooms and some veggies. He always has 80s and 90s rock music playing and likes to sing while handing us our change.

Shuk HaCarmel Maganda and Gwapo stall

This stall’s owner always calls us “gwapo” and “maganda” (handsome and beautiful, respectively), words he learned from his Filipino friends. Vanity! He sells us great olives and olive oil from his own farm. He also has good smoked fish (smoked salmon, tinapa, and something that looks like smoked sardines) and honey.

Shuk HaCarmel Candy Store

If you have a sweet tooth, have no fear. The assortment of candies in this place will make your head swim. Oops! That’s my brother buying swiss chocolates for the wifey.

Shuk HaCarmel Candy Store

Gummy worms, anyone?

Shuk HaCarmel Cheese Store

And of course, one of our favorite stores, the cheese store! All sorts of cheese you’ve ever dreamed of, and more cheese that you never knew existed. I can honestly say that my cheese vocabulary has increased fourfold since I’ve been here.

Shuk HaCarmel Meat

This is our regular meat store, manned by Yossi. So many of the people we know in the market are named Yossi, so he is known as “Yossi buto-buto,” because every time he sees us he goes: “Buto-buto, buto-buto!” (Beef ribs) Again, more words picked up from Filipino friends.

Shuk HaCarmel spices

Doesn’t this make you want to just dip your hands and run the spices through your fingers? (Probably not a good idea unless you want to be chased out by an irate shopkeeper and banned from the market.)

Shuk HaCarmel Dead Sea Products

Of course, what respectable local market would be without Dead Sea products? Here you can get all sorts of muds, lotions, salts and whatnot at dirt cheap prices. Pun not intended.

Shuk HaCarmel clothes

If you’re not too particular about the brand of your clothes, you can also find everything here. Shirts, pants, socks, underwear, belly dancing outfits, shoes, etc.

Since the Babii is growing so fast and spending mindless amounts of money on clothes that she would wear only for a a maximum of three months just doesn’t make sense, this is where we buy her socks, tights, house clothes and pajamas (thank goodness for school uniforms!).

Shuk HaCarmel artist

If you stay a little later in the day, you can watch some street performers entertain the pedestrians.

Shuk HaCarmel artist

Sadly, I just don’t seem to have the time anymore.

R and I go to market early, around eight o’clock, to avoid the weekend rush. Come at ten and you’ll be jostling with tourists armed with heavy duty cameras and families rushing to finish their groceries in time for Shabbat dinner.

There are a host of other stores we frequent that I have not mentioned…. There is a pretty comprehensive Asian store, a long alley for chickens, another for fish. There are also various stores selling all sorts of cleaning and household products and (yes!) the ever elusive pork, bacon, ham and salami. When I say you can find everything here, I mean you can find everything here. (Light bulbs, anyone?)

For tourists who want to visit this market (and who wouldn’t?), here are a few tips:

1. Come on a weekday. The stores open a bit later (around 9 or 10 am), but you will avoid most of the serious shoppers. Those looking for the requisite keychains, shirts and Dead Sea lotions for souvenirs will find that prices here are significantly cheaper than prices at the mall or other tourist traps.

2. For those actually looking to buy food, prices are a bit cheaper in stores at the far end (near the bus terminal) and in the inner alleys. But it’s a long walk and not everyone has the stamina. I don’t, but we enter through the terminal and only go halfway up the market, so it’s easier on my limbs.

3. If you get hungry in the middle of all that shopping, there are quite a few restaurants (small and quaint, very touristy) in the market. There are also juice stands. Just keep your eyes peeled.

4. Always weigh the quality of the product against its price and don’t be cheap. Remember, you get what you pay for.

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