By: Carina Lang *
On Friday morning, 3/9/2018, I went for the first time to a traditional market in Indonesia and that is what my new article will be about. I will try to give a summary of what I saw, smelled, heard and felt at the market and compare it to one of the markets I know from Germany.
Even before sunrise, the first merchants started selling their goods at the traditional market of Pontianak names Pasar Flamboyan. But when we arrived around seven (which was by then already kind of late), the place was still pretty crowded and the air was filled with the voices of merchants and purchasers. By place I mean a vast hall in which every merchant had his own stall where he sold his goods. However the market spread even further, so that outside of the building vending stalls could be found as well. I was overwhelmed: by the amount of people, presented goods and the smell of it altogether. We cleft our way through the stalls, carefully trying not to step on the feet of strangers or to block the way for the motorcycles that some-how managed to drive through the mass.
At the Flamboyan Market of Pontianak one can find almost everything: fruits, condiments, meat but also clothes, instant coffee… The wild mixture of goods was also reflected by the arrangement of the stalls. Everything was mixed up and I could not recognize any specific order in the composition of the market. Only the stalls that sold fresh fish were kept a little bit apart. Our first stop was a stall selling local condiments which were packed in small plastic bags.
Many of those condiments are regarded as exotic spices in Europe (for example cinna-mon or cardamom) and are therefore sold at high prices in German shops. But since they come from areas nearby, one can buy them at a much lower price at local markets in Indonesia. This reminds me of the colonial past of Indonesia, when different European powers tried to colo-nize the islands in order to control the cultivation of and the trade with those luxury products they were back then. Then we continued to buy vegetables and fruits, many of them unknown to me. This is definitely due to the climate difference between Germany and Indonesia. Be-cause the weather here is a lot hotter and more humid, the plants, vegetables and fruits are completely different from those that grow back home in Germany. Of course one can also buy many of them in German supermarkets but one cannot compare the taste of those supermarket products with the provisions that can be bought here at markets, which often come directly from the field, tree…
Our next stop was a stall that sold fresh chicken meet. With fresh I mean really fresh! Behind the stall there were cages filled with very vivid chicken indeed. The butchers would butcher the animals directly on the ground! I had never seen anything like this before. I like eating meet but still, seeing the animals cackling in their cages and then minutes later holding their fresh meet in my hands was an unreal experience for me. Yet this is the most natural way to get fresh meat! Especially at a place with tropical climate like Pontianak, the meet perishes really easily so it is safer to keep the animals alive as long as possible. However something like that is not possible in Germany given that the regulations for butchering and selling meet are really strict in Germany. Also the fish and crabs at the stalls where we went to next were sometimes kept alive in basins and then killed on the ground when a purchaser ordered them. Another small detail that caught my attention at the sea fruits area were the numerous cats straying in between the stalls, trying to get their share of food. And actually nobody really seemed to care when one of them stole a small fish.
In the city of Hamburg, in northern Germany, there is a big fish market that takes place every morning. It is well-known throughout Germany and many tourists stroll through the market when they come to visit Hamburg. Actually the famous fish market of Hamburg does not dif-fer from the fish market in Pontianak at all: The market starts early in the morning when the fishermen come back from the sea. Then they immediately start to display the fish they caught. The air is penetrated by the smell of fresh fish and the voices of merchants promoting their products (just like at the market in Pontianak!). There are also a couple of stalls that offer warm bread rolls with fried fish or fish and chips. It is said that you can eat the best fried fish of the city at this market. Some merchants also sell big baskets filled with fruits of the season or small plants. But the main objective of this market is still the trade with fish and sea fruits. If you have the opportunity to visit Hamburg I can really recommend you to get up early in the morning, to visit the local fish market and to enjoy some deep fried sea fruits with some tartar sauce!
I would like to thank you for reading my article and hope, that this article could point out some differences between Germany and Indonesia you did not know about before. Going to a traditional Indonesian market has been a very interesting experience for me, especially because I got to see fruits and vegetables that are not sold in Germany. I hope I get to try them all as long as I am still in Pontianak. (Hamburg University student, internship in teraju.id)