I go to Blaak Market every Saturday, and sometimes on Tuesdays too. It’s super loud and lively: stallholders shouting out products and prices, little children running around, dogs barking. It’s right in front of the Markthal, which is one of the most touristy places in Rotterdam, and the Blaak Market is full of locals, so it’s such a contrast. Everyone’s filing past the stalls and if you want to stop and buy something you have to sort of push your way through. I grew up in India and it reminds me of markets at home – hustling and bustling, but not rowdy.
I discovered the market in the first few days after moving to Rotterdam. It was before I’d found an apartment, so I was staying in a hotel in the city centre, spending my days exploring by myself. One day I came across Blaak and it’s been part of my Rotterdam routine ever since. I used to have to take a tram to get there, but now I’m lucky enough to live a ten-minute walk away. Visiting Blaak these days, I feel like a local – until I open my mouth!
I’m not exactly an early bird – I go to Blaak around 1pm and always visit the same stalls for fruit and vegetables. A lot of the stalls specialise, but I usually prefer this particular large one that has everything I need: aubergines, mushrooms, courgettes, sweet peppers. I love to cook. There’s just something about sitting down to eat the meal that you just made. I couldn’t cook before I came to the Netherlands, but I’ve picked things up from different people.
Growing up in India, buying vegetables at the supermarket wasn’t really a thing we did in my family and I’ve inherited a mindset about supporting your local community where you can. At home, though, coriander and chillis are usually thrown in for free – when my mother found out that you have to pay for them here she was flabbergasted.
I get my lunch at a Turkish gozleme stall – my go-to is the spinach and feta wrap. It’s run by a family – father, mother and daughter – and it’s just very cute. They speak to me in English, which I appreciate. It’s super-cheap as well.
The market is on whatever the weather. And actually, if it’s a rainy day, I find it a good incentive to get out of the house. It raises my spirits. I’m so bad with umbrellas here, though – they turn inside out whenever I use them – so I just put my hood up. I don’t mind getting a bit wet. I’m always so happy to be there.