To Market To Market
Sundays in Malta, when tourists and locals alike come in droves from the bus stop on the hill, marching like ants down into the sleepy fishing village. Marsaxlokk is a small harbor town in the southeast of the island that becomes a busy destination when stalls pop up for fish, fruit and vegetable vendors to sell.
I bobbed through the foot traffic to get a glimpse at the different local fishes, fresh vegetables and quirky souvenirs that are available at the market. If you are a fan of close quarters and relinquishing your personal space, this is a perfect Sunday activity for you. It seemed like people were blissfully unaware of each other and it feels more crammed in the sections of the market where there is barely enough space for two people to pass through, but that’s all part of the charm, right?
It’s a fight for sensory control, the smells overpowering, colors vibrant, people shouting out to the vendors and at times you pass a souvenir stand that has wind up toys and beeping trinkets all going off at once and the people watching is epic. It’s a magical headache waiting to happen.
There are several women with small carts selling delicious variety of fresh herbs and capers, a Mediterranean cooking staple. They still use these amazing little wooden barrels for measurement, a Kejla. One woman I spoke with said her Kejla was handed down to her through many generations on her mothers side. Imqaret is another item unique to Malta at the market, a tasty date filled pastry so be on the look out for them both!
The market was traditionally for fish and produce but now you can find souvenirs, trinkets, insanely cheap shoes and oh yes, don’t forget the lingerie. Everything from produce to panties here and let’s be honest ladies, who doesn’t want all of their undergarments purchased from a fish market?
After perusing the market I headed for lunch to a spot recommended to me by a local with the promise of one of the best seafood meals on the island and I have to say he was right. Sitting at the corner table watching the bustle of the market while enjoying a crisp white wine and fresh seafood is the way to go. Tartarun realizes the special place that fishing has in the village and named their restaurant accordingly. The name describes a way of fishing called Seine Fishing, in which the fishermen take a vertical drag net that has a weighted base so it falls to the floor of the water, scooping in smaller fish. This technique was used by older fisherman for recreation and primarily on Sundays when half of the catch would go to the local priest in town.
If you have had your fill of the market you can venture down to St. Peter’s Pool, just outside of town. It’s a natural pool with flat rocks around it for sunbathing. Bring food or drinks with you, there isn’t anything there except sunbathers, swimmers and a beautiful little Mediterranean oasis. It’s not the most accessible but it makes for an adventurous afternoon post market trip.