The mix of languages & cultures
Lately I focused a lot on the markets of my city, Bonn. So it was about time to enlarge my horizon. Cologne is not far away and I already had a peek view on the market in the Nippes neighborhood. It is characterized by a lot of different cultures and does not seem to be too gentrified, a mix of people with lower and higher incomes. And so was the outdoor market.
When walking through the market to get an overview I could identify a few languages: German, Turkish, Arabic, Persian and some I could not identify. The whole buzz of the market was about this mix. Some fruit and vegetable stalls had huge piles of peppers, tomatoes, parsley and the like, indicating that purchases here were done in big quantities for larger families. “Abla (Turkish for sister) those are great” shouted one trader showing a whole strawberry tray definitely too large for a one or two person household. This ambiance exuded a more Mediterranean style, I felt almost like a tourist. Other traders had rather smaller quantities but larger variety of produce, indicating that they where catering for a different type of cuisine and smaller households.
Strangely enough I did not discover any halal butcher. All of the four or five ones looked more like the classic ones: one specialized in poultry (with lots of chicken stomachs, hearts etc. on stock – yummy), the others having rather traditional meats and sausages. There were queues at all stalls, a rather good sign.
The mix of purchasing power
For the first time I saw a stall selling cheeses, yoghurts and other milk products beyond their “best-before-date” resulting in low prices. The owner is selling these special products since a long time on several Cologne markets with success. To make the clientele at ease, he offers samples to prove that they are still good enough to eat. He knew all the facts about food waste and shook is head about its magnitude in Germany. He sources the products from a specialized wholesale dealer who saves tons of super market products from waste. When I look at all the hip food waste projects who want to change the world, I believe these dealers should get more credit and beautiful Instagram posts.
At the other side of the market there was another stall, with just the opposite approach: high quality cheeses from various countries, the stuff I love. Before joining the market the owner had observed the crowd for some time to find out if it fits his profile. He saw that the customers with the necessary interest and purchasing power were coming on Fridays and Saturdays and since then he has not regretted to be there. The stall is also present on the evening market at the Rudolph Platz which is rahter a street food market. There he also serves nice wine.
The mix of people, the mix of food
I very much enjoyed the diversity and buzz in the market, as said before I felt a bit like a tourist who wants to experience the local scene without other tourists around. Well, a lady I had a conversation with at the nice permanent coffe-shop in the market, told me that she still comes by from time to time despite having moved into another distant neighbourhood. I think this is a lively example of the attractiveness of the market.
When observing this energy loaden ambiance and diversity of people I was wondering if people here – traders and customers – showed a togetherness or were rather next to each other without much intermingling. Maybe it is a too overloaded point to look at on a market, despite living in times of too many xenophobic voices… I asked again the lady but there was no conclusion.
Yes there were stalls which had a clearly mixed clientele independent of the product sold, others not so much. The major coffee shop had a more hip style thus attracting its own segment of customers, whereas others enjoyed their filtered coffee in an improvised setting.
I felt like: yes, this is a modern city where diversity is at the core of being the normal way of life. And yes it has an impact on the diversity of the available food,
I discovered date syrup and whole dried peppers from Turkey on a string. Lovely. And I also had in my shopping bag some French raw milk butter, French & Dutch cheeses, pineapple from Costa Rica and spinach Börek. Happy shopper.
All in all: I truly liked the market in Cologne-Nippes, it is full of buzz and diversity. Very entertaining and with a wide range of products from lowe price to high quality to be discovered.
A little link list: