by Matthew Sterne on February 27, 2014
7 min read

Conveniently, Rihanna wrote a song that’s perfect for this story; “We found love in a market place.” Before the Riri fans go on a riot, I concede that those aren’t the exact lyrics but the original doesn’t make sense in the context of this story so I’m my sticking to my version.

Before embarking on the romantic tale that took place at the EarthFair Market, let me first set the scene and digress into a little background information. It was a Thursday, which is a good thing because if we had moseyed to St George’s Mall in Cape Town on any other weekday, there would’ve been no market and therefore no love. At around 12:06pm, Poodle and I absconded from our offices in Hope Street to attend a very important appointment with our stomachs.

Queen tester-sniffer-outer

Queen tester-sniffer-outer (me… Picchu) on the hunt

En route, Poodle – her usual cheerful self – chitchatted but my full attention was not on the conversation. What I was really thinking about was my bruised ego; Poodle and I recently summitted Lion’s Head together and by that I mean Poodle galloped up while I floundered behind. The result of our incompatible hiking abilities meant that Poodle was awarded a win (the points tally is Poodle 1; Picchu (that’s me) 0).

When my legs had recovered (4 days later), Poodle and I discussed whether each of our excursions would be a show down. Poodle suggested that such competitiveness would be silly, childish; vying against one another would not be good for team morale. My pride dictated that I couldn’t leave the game with no points on the board but, knowing full well that I had no intention of sticking to the pact, I agreed. With my eyes on a victory, we drew closer to the market and I contemplated an angle that would give me a competitive edge (other than the fact that Poodle didn’t know we were competing). Markets are not regularly used for epic battles between colleagues but ours is a more subtle rivalry; a contest of the Gossip Girl persuasion (xoxo).

Adderley Flower Market

Adderley Flower Market

Before reaching our destination, we strode through the celebrated Adderley Street flower market. On Poodle’s suggestion, we lined up our pumps and took a photo that she announced was, “So hipster.”

Recognising an opening, I decided that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. “You’re a hippie.”

Poodle laughed. “I said hipster, not hippie.”

“Same difference,” I responded, convinced that hipster was merely the adjective of the noun hippie.

Poodle shook her head. “They’re entirely different sub-cultures.”

I took her disagreement as a signal that she was reluctant to include herself in this sect, which made me happy and encouraged me to continue to make the association.

Earth Fair Market

The EarthFair Market is a wonder – materialising every Thursday with a spread good enough to panic over. As a seasoned market go-er, I know not to order the first thing that makes me salivate. Poodle and I explored the bustling market with a Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah’s-Couch excitement, pointing at curries, ice-creams, halloumi balls and paella, as though this gesture alone would secure our ownership.

Earth Fair Market

During our orientation Poodle became aware of an affliction I suffer from: I can’t say no to tasters. Armed with the snout of a truffle hound searching for treasures in the forest, I discover and then hoover down free food like there’s no tomorrow. My desire to try everything and anything amuses Poodle no end. Endeavoring to help me on my quest, Poodle herded me in the direction of any offerings that I missed, which felt a little like teamwork but I shrugged the sentiment off, reminding myself that we were in the throes of an epic battle.

The innovative green wraps of the EarthFair Market

The innovative green wraps of the EarthFair Market

Green Juice is for sissies

Green Juice is for sissies

Being the hippie she is, Poodle gravitated towards the fresh juice stand. While we waited for her green concoction, Poodle instructed me to, “Take a picture of those hipsters.”

“They’re not hippies,” I responded, looking at the trio who were decidedly unearth-childish.

“Not hippies, hipsters,” she said.

“Same difference,” I reiterated.

Poodle smiled. “They’re entirely different sub-cultures.”

The repetition made me second guess myself. Was it possible that they were, as Poodle claimed, different categories of alternatives rather than two generations of the same thing? I ignored my doubt by focusing on something I understand: food. Caramel and sea salt ice-cream, the softest mussel I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, creamy pistachios, freshly squeezed lemonade… My scavenger hunt was interrupted when Poodle spotted the love of her life.

“That’s my type,” Poodle said, pointing at a bearded man who I’d bet half my belongings is a vegan.

“Seriously?” I asked.

“Yes,” Poodle confirmed with enough passion to counter my disbelief.

During our brief acquaintance I have seen countless men checking Poodle out, innumerable suitors that would’ve approached if she had given them half a second glance. And she chooses him? But who am I to question love’s arrow? The only reasonable response to her declaration of infatuation was to follow the stranger around the market. Of course we’re not weirdos, we gave him his space – maintaining a distance of 25cm between him and us at all times. His ponytail brought up the hippie/hipster issue again. This time, I decided to pitch for an association with hippies rather than hipsters because I was fairly confident that I knew more about the Woodstock crowd than their culture-junkie counterparts.

Love in the Market Place

“Poodle, do you think that if someone looks like a hippie, hangs out where other hippies are and is attracted to hippies, that they might in fact be a hippie?”

Poodle stopped, turning around to answer, “I’m not a hippie.”

“No one said you were,” I responded, backtracking, “I was talking about your boyfriend.”

This strategy worked wonders because Poodle’s attention reverted to her fellow hippie. “Where’s he?”

There was no need to answer. We both knew he was gone. The only consolation is that Poodle has this photo to remember him by.

Exploring the Mother City

Exploring the Mother City on foot

As far as awarding a point goes, the events present a difficult conundrum. To her credit, Poodle drank that green juice which was healthy enough to guarantee her an extra decade to her life and I can’t deny that she “found love in the market place.” In consummation of food and flavours, I definitely came out tops, devouring enough to feed a small fat-camp. Extra commendation can be given to me for persistently associating Poodle with two sub-cultures (even if I can’t really tell the difference between the two). But, at the end of the day, it’s near impossible to compete with true love. Yes, she lost it but ‘it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. It pains me to concede the point but she deserves it:

Poodle 2, Picchu 0.

Poodle made me this beautiful image as a 'consolation prize.' Of course its real purpose is to compare my eating habits to those of a squirrel. Real subtle.

Poodle made me this beautiful image as a ‘consolation prize.’ Of course its real purpose is to compare my eating habits to those of a squirrel. Real subtle Poodle, real subtle.

Find the EarthFair Market opposite the Cathedral, Upper St Georges Mall (off the corner of Wale Street and Church Street). It’s open from 11am to 3pm so there’s more than enough time to get your food on. If, like me, markets are your Achilles heel then have a look at our Top Markets of Cape Town blog. For more of Cape Town’s treasures and to start planning your trip to the southern tip of Africa, contact one of our expert travel consultants.