Victoria market, on the island of Mahé, dedicated to Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke, is probably one of the most colourful and beautiful places in the city; it is located in Market Street, one of the few pedestrianised roads. Victoria is also one of the smallest capital cities in the world, with a population of just 26,000.
The market opens in the early morning, at around six o’clock, and even at this hour you can see the majestic white herons, known by locals as ‘Madam Paton‘, waiting patiently at a respectful distance for scraps of fish.
You can find any number of tropical fruit, some completely foreign.
For example, I got to taste a bright red fruit, known locally as ‘jamalac‘: it looks a little like an apple but the flavour is somewhere delicious between sweet and sour, with the texture of a lychee, if you can imagine it.
You can’t find it in Europe, I looked into it. Though, if you ever find yourself travelling around this part of the world, or towards Southeast Asia, you could be lucky enough to get the chance to try some.
Wandering between the stalls was a great experience; a discovery of fragrances, smells and spices, some of which I had never seen before. For example, the ‘four-spice tree‘, which we discovered here on Mahé, in the Jardin du Roi botanic garden. The plant really does exist, though the four-spice we find in the shops at home is usually only a blend of spices using that name, consisting of white pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. We managed to collect a few leaves straight from the tree; however, it isn’t allowed to export fresh ones, so we made do with a couple of packets of dried ones from the market, perfect for meat, fish or vegetable curries.
Spices were introduced to the Seychelles by Pierre Poivre (an curiously named French official), who was then governor of the islands of Mauritius and Reunion. Poivre came to Mahé in 1768 (some say it was 1772) and had nutmeg trees, cloves and many other spices planted in the Jardin du Roi in the district of Anse Royale. The Botanical Gardens, on the road to Mont Fleuri, are dedicated to him.
The market is at its absolute busiest on Saturdays, when sellers come from all over the island of Mahé, loaded with fruit and spices, and the fishermen display their best and most colourful fresh catches. It is fascinating to watch the haggling between the seller and the housewife who, having spied the perfect fish for lunch, launches into arguments over quantity, size and price. Sometimes she wins, especially if she has come towards the end of the day, when the seller has had enough and can’t wait to go home. Other times, it’s the other way around, and she gives in and pays, with a shake of the head.
It’s the same the world over when it comes to market trading.
LIGHT – I love the light in these places, I think it is perfect for taking pictures with no shadows, especially in the morning.
EQUIPMENT – I prefer to use a tripod whilst taking the photos and for certain types of framing, as it gives me the required stability.
GUEST BLOGGER: SANDRA SALERNO OF UN TOCCO DI ZENZERO
For those food lovers who are searching for ‘the’ recipe, or for inspiration for a new dish; for those who want to read about, keep updated and exchange views on the world of food, informally and not just ‘between professionals’: Un Tocco di Zenzero. A blog that’s been going for seven years, started by Sandra Salerno; born in 1967, food writer, food blogger and food&wine consultant. Un Tocco di Zenzero (A Touch of Spice) takes its name from the film of the same name by the Greek director, Tassos Boulmetis, nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2005. The blog was born of Sandra, a self-taught cook’s, passion for cooking, and brings together more than 1,000 recipes: from canapés to fresh pasta, from finger food to baby pastries for parties, right as far as recipes for those with coeliac disease or food allergies.
A little culinary encyclopaedia, therefore, to draw on to help you create innovative lunchtime or evening menus for all occasions: formal fine dining or quick and simple, yet always delicious.
Sandra, from Turin, tells us: My recipes originate from a combination of Piedmontese, Occitan and Mediterranean traditions, from my travels and from reworked ideas borrowed from French and Spanish cuisine, and also from New American Cuisine Overseas.
As well as her blog, awarded the prestigious first prize in the food & wine category at the Macchianera Blog Awards 2009, Sandra also acts as a consultant for small and large producers, works on collaborative publications and publishes work online.
Sandra has been developing a Travel section for two years, dedicated to food travel; Un Tocco di Zenzero on a culinary voyage of world discovery.