17 Dec Things to do in Fiji: exploring the Sigatoka Markets.
The idea of visiting local markets brings up memories of a cacophony of sounds, different smells, interesting morsels of unusual foods to sample, to immerse yourself in a different culture and to live outside your comfort zone. Today we enter Sigatoka markets to live as the locals do.
Lou and I love different healthy organic foods, we try to live and eat organic as your body is only as good as what you put in it. Lou went through a trying time with many health issues, through strict diet and discipline, no alcohol she has regained her glowing, vibrant-self. So now we have formulated a list of tasty but great for your body foods that we both follow.
The main markets are spread over a 4-street area only on Saturdays. Farmers who live a day’s journey away, bring their organic produce into the markets on Friday afternoon. There is a huge dormitory above the markets which the government has been good enough to make it available for the farmers at only charging $2.00 to sleep overnight, so in the morning they are there ready to sell their precious goods.
The array of fresh pineapples, bananas and mangos look mouth-wateringly enticing. Pineapples are 3 for $5.00, great value and they smell so sweet you can imagine the juice running down your chin as you take a luscious bite. Bananas still on the branches, how fresh is that! The farmers eagerly offer samples of their produce, hard to resist when you see how fresh and healthy the goods are. Mangos are sold at $4.00 a plate with 4 sweetly smelling fruits waiting to be devoured.
All of the produce is displayed on a plastic tarp, on the street, from a different array of vegetables to spices, to just a farmer who only sells chillies. When he asked me if I liked chillies, I naively said yes and preceded to sample a little green one, thank goodness I had a bottle of water to put the fire out, he laughed and told me the small green ones are the hottest. Another lesson learnt the hard way!!
Lou and I only use cassava flour at home as it is a pure gluten-free flour, very good for your digestion, so we were interested when we spotted the cassava in the whole root form. When we asked if they had any cassava flour the farmer said no they normally boil the vegetable up. He had some and we tried it, or should I say I tried it. Lou took one small bite and gave the rest to me. The look on Lou’s face was priceless, so as not to disrespect the farmer I ate mine and Lou’s. Defiantly an acquired taste!
We came across a lady who was shredding a white flesh fruit. We asked what it was and she told us it was a Jackfruit used in curries instead of meat, it had a strong texture which when cooked slowly turns soft enough to eat.
My favourite is ginger, it is so good for you whether in stir fry’s, making curries, baking a whole fish, preferably a snapper, or in a nice ginger beer. My Nan made the best ginger beer it was so nice, just smelling the ginger brings back memories of helping Nan make the delicious brew, and there were plates and plates of it for just $1.00, wish I could take some home.
The markets are split into 3 areas, fruit and vegetables, fish, and souvenirs. As we walked down the aisles, we were enticed to buy from the owner’s stall, each one promising his was the best, have to love the self-confidence of the sellers.
Kava is a traditional drink and it is made from the pepper root, and as we traversed the markets we came across stalls and stalls of the plant all dried ready to pound into a powder and mix water to make it. The rugby was on tonight perhaps there would be plenty of fans watching the rugby and drinking Kava, that’s why there was so much of it on display.
The sun was at its highest and it made for sweltering conditions as we walked around the markets. The farmers didn’t seem to notice as I’m sure they endure long days in the fields to be able to bring the village goods to market.
The women were all dressed nicely in colourful wrap around dresses, all had a smile on their face and were quick to engage or answer any queries we had. After 2 hours of exploring the very clean markets we loaded up on our provisions that will keep us going for another week and made for our taxi back to our resort.
A fascinating experience making us appreciate our shopping centres back home, and how easy it is for us just to duck down the local supermarket and get anything we need. The farmers work in blistering conditions to plough a field to grow produce so they can feed their village and what excess they have they bring to market to sell so the village can buy other products they need.
It was a very humbling experience – something I think we all need to experience.