Coffee: Market Lane Coffee
Deli: The Cheese Shop Deli
Fruit and Vegetables:Pino's Fine Produce
Meat: Gary's Quality Meats
Poultry: John Cester's Poultry and Game
Fish: Claringbold’s Seafoods
Specialty: Mister Nice Guy Cupcakes
General Merchandise: Prahran Market Hardware
Our winners will now compete against the winners from the other Markets of Melbourne to be crowned Melbourne's best market trader, within their category.
And it got me thinking - what makes someone my favourite trader? Obviously I shall not name names (we don't want bloodshed on the Market floor. Especially since it's all nice and new and level now.)
I've shopped here for over a decade and at first I'd pick and choose from amongst the specialists. A few potatoes here, my mangoes there. Eggs from one and honey from another. Fish and seafood based purely on the catch of the day.
When I was feeding a small family Hagen's Organics got a lot of my business. Until one day, when my toddler threw a $4 lamb cutlet on the floor and I sat down and wept into my paraben-free-moisturised-hands. All the butchers starting seeing me after that debacle.
But I got to start to know people. Conversations struck up over celery selection. Recipe-talk became ingredient-talk, family-talk. And once someone starts ribbing you about your love life, it's very hard to suddenly up and leave them for another stall. Even if that stall has better broccoli. Because it's not just about the food here, it's about the connections.
All that said, if the quality at a shop fell off consistently, if another fruit and veg trader began bringing in dazzling produce, then my allegiances would shift. Slightly, and not noticeably (I am sure I am not the only person to dash past a former-beloved when they weren't looking). Perhaps I would make a few small purchases from one while doing the bulk of my shopping just before I left.
But the people who have stayed with me all these years, the traders who I have gone back to time and time again, who know my name, the names of my children, that I like a chicken cut into 10 and not 8 pieces, are the ones who know their business inside out. Who source carefully and have close relationships with suppliers. Who keep their displays exciting and fresh, who always have a new idea for how to serve a meal but respect old traditions too. When they care about what they're selling and how they're serving. This makes them my favourites and there are more of them than I can count.
Love you guys.