Victoria market: colours, aromas and spices


Victoria market: colours, aromas and spices

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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.

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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.

Jamalac fruit at Victoria market

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.

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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.

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Photography TIPS

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.




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About Sandra Salerno:
Twitter Profile of Un Tocco di Zenzero 
Instagram Profile of Un Tocco di Zenzero
Facebook Profile of Un Tocco di Zenzero

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