01 July 2010 by Robyn Campbell

Make a beeline for the Boeremark

Pretoria’s Boeremark is a true farmers market. You need to be there when the gates open at 05:30 (no, that wasn’t a typo), or you’ll miss the local delicacies for sale. And a chance to chat to the salt-of-the-earth folk that purvey them.

Primarily a fresh vegetable market, local food lovers flock here because of the wide variety of homemade produce for sale at this unpretentious neighbourhood market.

Fresh and affordable, and there’s plenty to eat at this market. Ask a stallholder if something’s fat-free, or suitable for this-or-that food allergy, and they’re likely to stare at you blankly; or offer you extra cream with your hot-off-the-griddle Belgian waffle. Less is more isn’t a concept that’s likely to catch on at the Boeremark… .

Instead, you’re likely to see two oomies (uncles) concocting bushveld cappuccino’s - strong black coffee with brandy - before the sun is up, or moms and daughters swooning over super-sized, neon-coloured cupcakes, hunks of pink coconut-ice, and chocolate brownies the size of paving stones.

Regular shoppers know to grab a pull-cart, and load-up on Oscar-sized bunches of spinach, dirt-cheap portabelini mushrooms, squashes, tomatoes, and whatever else is in season, and was growing in a nearby field just a few hours ago. You’ll also find Free State venison, lamb, and fresh farm chickens.

Must-visit stalls include Hijke’s for cheese, and Bean 2 Cup, if only to watch their Heath Robinson coffee percolators, wheezing steam and clanking out endless cups of moer koffie (campfire coffee).

Be sure to try some melkkos (literally, milk food). For want of a better description,  it’s a bit like spatzle cooked in milk and sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar. It’s quintessential Boeretroos (Afrikaans comfort food), and it’s delicious.

At this farmers market in Pretoria, Annette Myburgh’s vetkoek are a rite of passage. You haven’t really experienced the Pretoria Boeremark until you’ve eaten, or been beaten, by this dinner-plate size fritter.

Made on site, they come in 1 size only:  huge! Queue early if you want the curried lamb filling, but the drip-down-your-chin butter and syrup is just as scrumptious.

On that sticky note, I’m off to programme my GPS for Silverton in Pretoria. I feel a Boeremark moment coming on…

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