The farmers market, more correctly “people’s market” – a direct translation from Greek (laikí agorá) – is a tradition everywhere in Greece. Vendors, merchants and farmers from all over the country meet at a specific time and place every week and set up their benches on a town street. In Nea Smyrni, my hometown, this is Megalou Alexandrou St every Wednesday, and it goes on for 500m, not including sidestreets.
It’s important to remember that laikí isn’t just a farmer’s market: there you can find not only fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, but also fish, olives and olive oil, nuts, wine, underwear, clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils, cleaning products and more. In other words, anything a housewife- or houseperson, we’re not sexist!- might need. My grandmother only ever did her grocery shopping at the laikí. She would rarely go to the supermarket.
Nowadays, I’m following her footsteps and carrying on the tradition. Unfortunately, it’s mostly other grandmas I see when I stroll along Megalou Alexandrou on Wednesdays, though in the last few years I’ve been noticing more and more young people rediscovering the old ways.
The produce on sale in these markets is not organic unless stated, but it’s the best quality and cheapest non-organic food you can possibly find. Indicatively: €1 for a braid of garlic, €1.50 for 1kg of rice, €2 for 2kg of broccoli. The later you go, the better bargains you’ll find.
To get there, take a tram to Agias Foteinis or Megalou Alexandrou.