Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia's central business district is quite possibly every food lover's dream. Produce, seafood, and meat stretch as far as the eye can see, and when closing time comes, vendors compete for customers' hard-earned dollars with a little friendly competition, shouting out specials.
"Mangos, one dollar each! Lowest price today!"
"To-MAH-toes, come and get 'em, priced to sell, three dollars a kilo!"
"Capsicums [bell peppers] half price! Come and get the lot!"
What's most striking, though, is the cleanliness of the market. In operation since 1878, the market has gone through many iterations as a public space; at one point it was a cemetery, then it was a livestock market, and at another point in time it was a wholesale market. Despite all these changes, today it remains a fixture in the local food scene, which brings us to our next point.
Equally striking is the crowd — there are actually quite a lot of people who seem to do their everyday shopping here. One dreams of such a place in America. Shoppers mill about the numerous fruit and vegetable stands, perusing the bounty of local agriculture, and flock to their favorite fishmongers and butchers for the freshest seafood and meats.
Queen Victoria Market is Melbourne's largest public market and is home to many other things besides fresh ingredients. It's also host to a sizable food court, general merchandise stalls selling everything from authentic Aboriginal jewelry to fresh flowers and souvenirs, shops, and cafés.
What we were most interested in, though, were ingredients we could not find in the States. When it came to fresh produce, since it was early March and the transition between summer and fall in Australia, many of the things that were on display were similar to what we could find at the height of summer in America — perfectly ripe peaches, plums, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant, to name a few examples — but there were still a few things that surprised us. However, the most interesting finds came when we perused the wares at fishmongers and butcher shops. To see what we discovered, check out the pretty pictures in our slideshow.
Queen Victoria Market is located at 513 Elizabeth St. on the corner of Victoria Street and Elizabeth Street. The market is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fridays from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. (general merchandise 4 p.m.), Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 3.p.m., and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on public holidays. Hours are subject to change; please check the website for the latest information.
Closest tram stops are Queen Victoria Market/Elizabeth Street (19, 57, 59) and Franklin St./Elizabeth Street (19, 57, 59).