A long history
Since centuries the regional “capital” Gunzenhausen in Franconia (now part of Bavaria) has the right to hold a market. And since these days, people come from far to buy at the Thursday outdoor market.
Some people from the surrounding area even schedule their doctors or administrative appointments to allow them do their purchases at the market.
This is what I had been told by one market trader. Looking around, the story seemed reasonable as the quality of the produce looked good.
Gunzenhausen is part of Franconia a region in Bavaria, Germany. It is generally speaking an area known for its beer, wine and its cuisine, which in my opinion is one of the better German ones. All is still linked to the regional food production and people are putting some emphasis on food quality. And this region is particularly meat heavy with big portions and small prices.
The outdoor market stretches along the main road in the historical center of the city and has 20 or so stalls. It is a mix of producers and traders, but all with regional roots and often unique products. The offering covered basically everything: fruits & vegetables, dairy, cheese, meat, fish (also local sweet water ones), spices, flowers, bread, pastry.
It is just nice to see a market having regional, rather smaller producers who deliver quality into the city. The local white asparagus for example was in season and carefully screened by knowledgeable housewives.
Let me highlight a few examples to show why people are coming from far to this place.
Re-inventing selling eggs
The lady who sold eggs and pasta made it very clear and explained it in great length that her chicken were truly free range ones. They have stables that they can move from on meadow to the other to provide their animals good food. And I learned that there is no need to put eggs in the fridge, it does not prolong their shelf life.
The succession of the farm seem to be in good hands, as her 11 year old daughter had a few quails and selling their eggs. They went into our basket and made us happy in our home kitchen. Not so easy to crack though.
Direct sales is at the core of their business. Customers can come to their farm at any time, take what they need and put the money into a box. She never really experienced fraud. Nice to hear.
And she even went one step further and sharing a temperature controlled vending machine with a butcher. She is selling eggs, chicken soup, pasta and other items. It is placed next to a camping site and the business is doing well.
I am always amazed about the creativity of small producers when it comes to ideas on how to compete against big business.
A woman’s job and a man’s job
Sheep meat is my favorite one. But it is not as widespread in Germany as pork or chicken. Finding a shepherd who is selling her own meat is then kind of a jackpot as it is often imported from the Netherlands or New Zealand for example.
The lady running the stall enjoyed what she was doing: talking to customers, telling them about all aspects raising and butchering sheep. It was a pleasure to listen to her. And she explained that her family business is clearly divided: her husband does not like to so much to do deal with people, so he is raising the flock. Her strengths is dealing with customers, her husband’s to deal with the animals. Sounds almost like a cliché, doesn’t it?
Bringing wholewheat bread to a new level
The most surprising stall to me was the organic wholewheat baker. Why is that? Well, I am not a particular fan of wholewheat bread. To me, it often lacks a truly fine aroma and spreading butter often results into the slice break apart in more or less big crumbs making it unpleasant to eat.
But this bakery here owned by the Fischer family in Lichtenau offered a truly new experience. Their wholewheat baguette had such a great structure, aroma and taste, a bit different to a classic French baguette, but with a very pleasant own character. No wonder: the sourdough raises for 3 (three) days before it is being baked. And we know that time is probably the most important “ingredient” for a good bread. It was so different to my usual experience that almost jumped around like a kid at Christmas.
Several types of bread found the way into my shopping bag. Still they did not survive for a long time. For people who love bread, there is no way passing by without buying a loaf or a roll.
At the day of my visit I went two times to the market. First alone, to get the basics for this post and then with my family. They enjoyed the market as well, which does not happen every time I visit one. Especially since there were no typical street food vendors around. Still the local produce was good enough for them.
All in all: The Thursday outdoor market in Gunzenhausen is a great representation of a hub for regional quality products and certainly worth a little detour.
A little link list:
- The page on the market by the city of Gunzenhausen
- The Gunzenhausen market on German TV
- The website of the egg producer and their Facebook presence
- A directory with the contacts of the shepherds
- The website of the organic bakery