No town or village in Greece is without its street market, the laiki, the people’s market. Laiki are held at least once a week, tow or even three times a week in larger towns. Here farmers and middlemen sell local, fresh, seasonal produce all that is needed for the healthy Mediterranean diet. Greeks prefer street markets to supermarkets and local green grocers, as there is much more variety and prices are lower.
The markets start early in the morning; the earlier you arrive, the more choice there is and you get to select better quality produce. If you arrive there just before the end, the prices have dropped as the vendors don’t want to take their wares home again.
On market days, people can be seen hurrying along with their shopping trolleys, eager to drive a hard bargain. The atmosphere is amazing, a riot of colors, bright red tomatoes, acid-yellow lemons, and rich purple eggplants. Breathe in the intoxicating aromas of herbs and spices and listen the stall holders shouting out their prices, laughing and joking with each other. You are always allowed to try before you buy, in fact you are encouraged to do so, as traders want to prove that their produce is fresh and of excellent quality.
Street markets are usually held in small areas, on straight streets. The first stalls sell fruit and vegetables. Then come delicious local cheeses, fresh fish, and fresh herbs. Live chickens, fresh village eggs, honey, olive oil from local olive trees and wine made from grapes harvested in nearby vineyards are all to be found here.
Further along come clothing and shoes, usually cheap and cheerful products. Women gather around the household equipment while men seem to be more interested in the DIY stalls.
Nearby canteens provide tasty cheese pies, loukoumades (mouth-watering Greek honey balls) and, of course, souvlaki.
Once shopping is completed, arrangements are made to meet at the ouzeri for a drink and to hear all the news and catch up on local gossip.