I call it ‘Hobbemaplein’, after the area its in; T calls it the ‘Haagse Markt’ as though it were the only market in the Hague (which it isn’t, though it is certainly the largest one) and many others say the ‘Turkse Markt’, a tribute, I reckon to the high proportion of Turkish stall owners. Suffice it to say that it is one and all of those, and more. Open four days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the market is almost always busy. Anytime of the day. Though I guess Saturdays are slightly busier than the others.
Your ‘welcome’ to the market depends on the entrance you take. If you come in your car and park in the parking garage underneath the market, you’ll start right at the end of the market – assuming you use your GPS and successfully navigate. I don’t drive except my food critic husband is taking me to get some of his chicken. I’ve driven there by myself, once – the roads have been conquered. Otherwise I join the masses – I am one of the masses (of devotees), heading out to pilgrimage! I start out on my journey with an empty, very empty trolley – a few large bags dropped in to segregate the shopping. The same can’t be said of my return home.
The first real smells to assail you, just off the tram as you navigate are those of lekker bekjes – little fried/battered fish nuggets, and then you move into a thriving feast for the eyes – flowers, food, clothes and every thing else under the glorious sun.
You’ll find some patat (potato) snack bars which serve up traditional dutch fare.
Then you’ll come across the Mediterranean shops – Greek-type shops stocking herbs, spices, vine leaves and the like.
If you come across the world-famous Greek olives, try them out! I did and they’re gorgeously garlicky yet not overly so.
As you wander about, you’ll see mannequins gayily decorated – some with happy feet, other with covered heads. And beautiful scarves and fabric, somewhat garishily yellow gold jewellery. Shoes, Clothes and lots more.
All the usual caveats apply here as elsewhere, don’t keep your personal possessions carelessly – you may be relieved of them otherwise. I only ever take what I need when I go.
I find the rows of fruit tremendously appealing – who wouldn’t? From regular everyday common fruit to exotic vegetables, sometimes in strange colours too. Take the Chocolate-coloured Paprika I saw – I had to buy some. I’d never seen it before.
Almost at any time of the day, you’ll see loads of fruit and vegetable piled high in bowls, being sold off for 1 euro. A lot of times, the produce is still fairly good even though it might look suspicious. Sometimes, it’ll be mixed quality and at others, obviously ‘off’. Take a good look before you buy and if in serious doubt – don’t.
Tropical produce is no stranger to the stalls – mangoes, plantains and the like.
Seafood is also in great abundance…Fresh and Frozen. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the fresh from the not so fresh and one trick is to look at the eyes. They should be shiny and clear, plus the fish shouldn’t smell fishy. Fresh fish smells of the sea. You’ll find all types. Enough to make you buy loads you don’t need.
As is cheese. Rows and rows. Choose to buy some and you’ll be rewarded with the sight of a great big mezzaluna slicing a massive cheese round and giving you a wedge of your desired weight
Eggs, chicken, Veal and Beef…. all the usual are on display.
And an assortment of nuts.
I end up discovering new fruit each time I go. And I mean it. There are so many fruits I’ve seen with Dutch names. I haven’t been very successful in finding the English translations. If you know the names of any of these, in English preferably (thank you very much), please share it with me.
So whenever you go and whatever you buy, you’re guaranteed to have a very colourful outing. Enjoy it. I did
The market is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8am to 5pm
To get there: Take Tram 6 from Central station.
If you plan on driving and want to program your GPS, there is a parking garage at De Heemstraat.