my last guest post in the (blog)house: farmers markets of New England
Posted in guest quarters June 3rd, 2011 by pia

All photographs and words in this guest post by Christine Chitnis.

It seems only fitting that I should end my visit to Pia’s {blog} house with a post devoted to the incredible farmers markets of New England.  We have covered gorgeous landscapes, and peeked into artist studios… but I only briefly touched on my absolute favorite thing about the region… the bountiful seasonal produce, unique artisanal food products and succulent prepared foods available at New England’s farmers markets.

As someone who enjoys cooking, and is always game for a kitchen experiment, I loved discovering unusual produce and intriguing food products during my market travels.  Favorite discoveries included quail eggs, rabbit meat, black currants, duck eggs, black radishes, kimchi, mini Savoy cabbage, kohl rabbi, homemade tempheh, an incredible variety of pickled produce, including pickled fiddleheads, raw cows milk, handcrafted cheeses… and the list just goes on.

Supporting our farmers allows them to continue to experiment and grow, leading to a more diverse array of offerings at our local market…an important step in preserving unique, and heirloom varieties of produce and food products for future generations.  This summer, make it a goal to try something new in the kitchen…your local farmers will thank you!

Christine Chitnis

A Glimpse into the Studio
Posted in guest quarters May 23rd, 2011 by guest blogger

All photographs and words in this guest post by Christine Chitnis.

Aside from taking in the incredible scenery of New England, my book writing travels granted me access to some amazing artist studios.  To me, there is nothing better than seeing where artists create, what they surround themselves with for inspiration and the tools they use.  Many of the events highlighted in Markets of New England are open studio tours, and indeed, these were often my favorite events to cover.

Many of the artists that I met are not only keeping alive traditional art forms, but are creating new and exciting methods of crafting.  They pay careful attention to the source of their materials, often using reclaimed and recycled goods…creating new out of the discarded.  I also noticed that community is now, more than ever, an important aspect of the ‘artist life.’  Whether collaborating on projects, or organizing city, and state-wide art events, artists are finding strength in numbers.

It is inspiring to think that with a renewed commitment to the arts, and the ever-present ingenuity of the art community, New England will remain home to a thriving creative scene.

Christine Chitnis

Through Gardens and Farmland
Posted in guest quarters May 11th, 2011 by guest blogger

All photographs and words in this guest post by Christine Chitnis.

As a relative newcomer to New England, I used my book-writing travels to explore the region in its entirety.  I was often struck by the contrasting landscapes that I would encounter.  On one hand, wild, untamed cliffs that drop steeply into the raging ocean below…on the other hand, manicured gardens, and farms, carefully tended.  I am always amazed at how we can cultivate this rugged land, not only to grow food, but to grow gardens dedicated to beauty.

I suppose that when most people think of New England, they think of the coast- and indeed, the coastal land is truly stunning, and most definitely a defining feature of the region.  But, there is so much more to this area of the county, including mountains, lakes, meadows and pastures.

I especially found such beauty in the rural images that I captured.  Centuries old farmhouses, still standing the test of time.  Stone walls, covered with moss, weaving through the countryside.  Cold-frames and greenhouses, erected to grow sustenance during the brutal winter months.  To me…these images encapsulate the ‘real New England,’ and pay tribute to the hearty people that choose to call this place their home.

Christine Chitnis

A ‘Wander’ Through New England
Posted in guest quarters May 4th, 2011 by guest blogger

All photographs and words in this guest post by Christine Chitnis.

I first happened upon Pia’s debut book, Paris: Made by Hand while daydreaming of traveling to the great City of Lights.  I loved everything about her book- the perfectly compact size, high quality paper, gorgeous images, and enticing shop descriptions.  But perhaps one of the greatest things about Pia’s book is that it introduced me to The Little Bookroom, the publisher that would eventually become responsible for ushering my first book, Markets of New England, into the world.

While Pia wandered through Paris, and eventually Amsterdam, I wandered…or shall I say sprinted… through New England!  There was nothing relaxing about my pace, as I covered fifty markets in six states over the course of a summer.  From the rocky coasts of Maine, to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, from open studio tours to farmers markets…I took in all that New England has to offer.

Along the way, I met dairy farmers, butchers, florists and bakers… jewelers, painters, photographers, and sculptors.  I felt honored to witness their creativity and ingenuity, and I was struck by how important it is to support these artisans.  Farmers and artists, when properly supported by their community, can then keep alive age-old traditions of their crafts and skills, as well as create new and inspiring methods of creation.

Although a travel guide book, I wrote Markets of New England with a greater message in mind: I hope it serves as a reminder to slow down and savor the handmade, homegrown goodness in our own communities, and in the far-flung locales we may visit.

Christine Chitnis

Market love, by Rani Nugraha
Posted in guest quarters March 18th, 2011 by guest blogger

all photos and text by guest blogger rani nugraha…

I’ve always said that regardless of where I am in the world, I can always feel completely at ease and at home in the middle of a bustling market. In the instance that the market is selling local produce, I am all the more elated, barely able to maintain my composure at the sight of so many textures, the amalgamation of so many scents and the anticipation of tasting everything I can get me little hands on.

I am sure that this sense of belonging in market atmospheres came from my parents. Having just moved to Australia with a young family, they didn’t have a lot of money for interior decoration and were generally on a tight budget for day to day living. Coming from Indonesia, they grew up at a time when the commercial western world was only just starting to ease its way into the environment. Instead of frequenting supermarkets, malls and cafes, mothers were still shopping for their groceries at markets, youngsters would grab afternoon snacks and icy drinks from markets after school to gossip and flirt a little, and office workers would nip past markets for a gab with friends over lunch and my parents were no different.

In my home town of Adelaide, my sister and I grew up accompanying my parents on their weekly shopping trips to the Central Markets, the city’s largest produce markets, and at the time, one of the few places Asian ingredients and condiments were sold.

Underneath the roof of a building built in 1900 (which is old by Australian standards) stallholders sell a rich variety of local cheese, wines, oils, chocolates, cakes, flowers, meats, poultry, and seafood and there are hundreds of multicultural places to have lunch. (Whenever I am home, it’s a must-go spot with my sister, and more often than not, an argument is bound to brew over where we are going to eat, with both of us having our own favourite haunts.)

My parents would pack their two daughters in the back seat, and a folding trolley with wheels in the boot of the car, and off we would trundle. A few hours later, my parents would leave satisfied that another chore was done for the week, and grateful that their two boisterous children were dozing lazily behind them amongst shopping bags crammed with fragrant herbs and sauces, sacks of rice, and baskets of vegetables.

Having travelled more now, I consider markets to be at the forefront of telling talents in design and the arts, the source for most of my homewares, and destination to aim for when in need of feeding my stomach and soul. The Borough and Brick Lane markets; both in London,  Helsinki’s Kauppatori market square by the main wharf, the traditional outdoor spice markets in my mother’s home village in Indonesia, the stalls underneath the shady canopy of giant Banyan fig trees on the banks of the Brisbane river, the Schanzenviertel festival markets of Hamburg in September, edgy and arty Christmas markets in Berlin, and the tantilising La Boqueria markets in Barcelona are just some of the markets I have sought in my travels, because I don’t consider a trip to a city complete until I have been to a market.

There are so many telling and significant cultural symbols apart from tents and stallholders, so many traditions that take place apart from the exchange of money for goods. A visit to a local market is always rich in experiences, and I am of the firm believe that one can not be unhappy in a market in the company of so many interesting characters.

This week, I want to introduce you to a character-loaded and unique location in Amsterdam that hosts a giant flea market once a month. A short ferry ride to the North of the city, the flea markets on NDSM wharf are an occasion where I take visiting friends, and where I also venture to frequently with my best friend to catch up, play dress up or just buy up.

Never one to leave empty handed, sometimes a review of my purchases a few hours later brings a “what was I thinking?” moment, as I look blankly at whatever it is I am handling. But usually I keep whatever crazy item it is because while it might not have any form or function, it’s still a souvenir of a great day out.

Read about Ij Hallen markets on the CITIZN project here.

x rani