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Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, has 11 markets distributed across the city. The one in the district of Duisdorf is located in the pedestrian zone on a square just in front of a larger supermarket. The surroundings are pleasant, no car is disturbing the peaceful ambiance and people are staying in groups for a chat. The tall trees around and a donkey statue give it almost the feeling of an Italian piazza.
With it’s 6 stalls the market is rather small, but covers most of the daily needs, except diary products. Fruits & vegetables, bread & cake, fish, eggs & jelly, meat & sausages from Silesia/Poland and flowers. That’s about it. It made it easy for me to do some shopping and chat with a few traders.
The traders & their offering
Mr. Mallon is in the fruits & vegetable business since the 70s, since 1988 on the Duisdorf market and you can truly experience his knowledge. His produce are nicely selected, very appetizing without an “industrial” look. I saw some grapes and got the recommendation to take the ones from Sicily with seeds as they taste better than the seedless ones. Perfect recommendation, the grapes had an aroma I hadn’t experienced in a long time. And I tried rapini as well which is not so widely known, still have to find a good recipe for it.
The bread stall is owned by Mrs. Felber who is producing in her family bakery about 30 km away. She is also catering for a market in Cologne and her own shop as well. This was probably the most crowded stall, and when I came the shelves were almost empty. I should get up earlier. Nevertheless the rye bread with walnut was eaten up at home quite quickly.
Mr. Weber, on the market since 35 years, is selling eggs, egg liqueur and his wifes’ jelly. In earlier years he sold meat as well, but his hands cannot deal anymore with the cold so he had to give it up. He is retired but still enjoys to be a trader at the market and wants to continue until the end. His wifes’ raspberry jelly was really nice and definitely much better than the ones from the supermarket.
The type of meat and sausages from the Bonn area are often lacking the spices I am used to from Franconia region of Germany where I spend important years of my life, not only from the culinary perspective. Mr. Opaszowski shared this opinion and this was the reason why selling products form Silesia in Poland with its own cuisine is still a business to be in. He is on the market since more than 20 years. And there are still a lot of Germany with roots in Silesia and Polish living in the area. I bought some smoked Mettwurst and frozen Pierogi, Polish dumplings. Still have to test them.
I did not want to buy neither fish nor flowers, but covering two thirds of the stalls is not bad either.
Decline & its reasons
The market, despite being pleasant, is in decline. The good times are over as the traders told me.
The reasons are the same as many of the traders across Germany tell me: women do not stay at home anymore, but pursue a professional career thus having less time for cooking. And the young generation prefers quick (ready made) meals instead of “real” cooking. I do not think that this is a sufficient reason, especially since some are still thriving and even attracting culinary tourists. But the decline is also observed in other countries. According to a report by Mission for Markets in the UK there is a decrease in footfall but revenues have increased in 2016. In the US farmers’ markets are still on the rise.
One trader told me that even evening operating hours did not lead to success as he could observe in one case. This surprised me, I would have expected a positive outcome. Apparently there is no easy recipe for a market success. I hope one of these days to have a collection of success stories.
And I think that the Duisdorf market improves the quality of life in its district, it still have pleasant memories of it.
All in all: a small neighborhood market with an interesting offering in a pleasant surrounding
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