It was a bizarre trip this month. For a start, it’s the topsy-turvy seasons, wobbling on the brink between both summer autumn. Courgettes and tomatoes are stacked next to squashes and chestnuts. Yet the weather forecast, when I visited, was for a scorching 29º Celsius.
The other odd thing was the men – or the women, to be exact. The market is always full of banter. But I’d never heard a roar of applause, nor seen lads looking coy and awkward.
But it was an extra special day. Three gorgeous ladies in high heels toured the market – a rare sight, indeed – handing out prizes as part of a fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support. "It’s a life [here on the Market] that goes unseen," observed Donna Easto, one of the trio.
As for produce, the first delights of autumn include fresh chestnuts, Jerusalem artichokes, Cep mushrooms, quinces, and squashes of all shapes and sizes – from the portion-sized Munchkins to larger Hokkaido (aka Potimarron).
Turkish figs are abundant and reasonably priced. English produce includes swedes, turnips, leeks and greens such as curly kale, purple sprouting, many salads and excellent quality spinach, chard and parsley.
Cox’s and russet apples will hand over to Royal Gala and Braeburn; Conference pears to Comice. The last of the cobnuts are now dried, English raspberries are still available, but the strawberries are all but over, making way for imports. French melons are also switching to fruit from Brazil.
On my way out, I bump into Leonie Taka, buyer for restaurant supplier Wild Harvest. She explains that chefs want accompaniments to serve with game. What are the highlights of her shopping list? "Root veg, mangoes, clementines and figs", she replies. Stepping into the first rays of sizzling sunshine, I’m off to make a jug of fresh lemonade.