Monday, May 16, 2011

Eumundi Foraging


Wednesday morning means foraging.

The definition of foraging as defined by Wikipedia; 'Foraging is the act of searching for food in response to the environment in which the animal lives, in reference to the payoff that an animal obtains from different foraging options.'

In this case the animal is me. The environment in which moi, the animal, lives is postcode 4562..a surreally beautiful destination that spans bush, rainforest and green rolling hills into Eumundi. The option at hand is vibrant, delicious and indulgent. The payoff is always huge.

A short drive through rolling hills and green fields along the aptly named Sunrise Road delivers me to the foraging destination. A bustling temporary metropolis of food in the heart of the sleepy country town of Eumundi. The 500 residents of this small hinterland town welcome the largest gathering of visitors on the sunshine coast twice weekly. The energy of stall holders, locals and tourists from across the land and globe create an atmosphere filled to the brim with life of another era. People enjoying the pastime of foraging, mixing and conversing in a marketplace as was done in a simpler time.

Market days buzz with creative energy and can seem like a modern day medieval fair, with the feeling everyone has come out from the surrounding hills and countryside to show their wares. What started as an idea of some likeminded creative locals has blossomed into the largest art & craft market in Australia. Eumundi is famous around the world now and there is nothing like wandering the tree lined stalls in the tropical heat. Local musicians playing a soundtrack to complete the laidback Eumundi vibe.

The community in this place is magic. It stems from the town's openness, sense of community and attraction of a simpler way of life. Its creative hub is awesome and the beauty around as inspiring as the locals who started this artisans & farmers market. The word has spread. An idea or dream that started with 3 stalls and 8 visitors has gathered momentum and life to grow into this celebrated event.

Mingling with international tourists in these sleepy hills reminds you, that our local market is an island of creativity which welcomes over 1.5 million visitors each year.

It’s the farmer's market which brings the locals. The top tier of stalls delivering nature’s bounty ready for collecting in the most satisfying way.

This is where my Wednesday foraging takes place. It's so much more delicious and inspiring than fluorescent aisles of any mega market. Each Wednesday I thank that flash of an idea that uprooted me here to my new home and therefore fatefully brought me on a Wednesday morning to be gazing adoringly at the most gorgeously ravishing Eumundi grown tomato. Seriously! Seduced by vine ripened tomatoes on a table. This is shopping lust that is good for you and anyone can afford.

The joy of buying a bag of just picked lemons for $1 as the stall holder,‘just has too many of them at home' thrills me. I always end my journey at the French goat cheese stall where Princess Fairy Abbey needs reminding to not just eat the farm fresh butter taster without the accompanying bread supplied. Did I just mention the bread? Fresh sourdough for the tomato and goats cheese is always lovingly placed in the canvas bag fittingly emblazoned with the word ‘Lovely’ in which I gather my foraging treasure.

This is an inspired way of shopping. One that makes you want to eat as well as cook. No benign and monotonous lists needed. It’s a choose your own adventure way of shopping, meandering and chatting. Ooh, there is the orchid lady - lets admire and have a little chat about possible future adoption of one of her stunning babies and how I might not kill its rapturous beauty. Or there is the fruit tree lady - I must discuss what she thinks that citrus tree is that is in the far comer of the lawn.

All this wonder is deliciously heaped together at the top of the marketplace. It’s worth a foraging delve though southward to find the lime & fig lady. Taste the beautiful pineapple chunks on her table and grab some more bounty. I absolutely now believe after tasting just picked pineapple - Pineapples are truly reason enough to move to QLD.

I would recommend buying a divine arincini ball and aioli from the arancini lady to munch on whilst strolling. Depending on the time of day or desire though, the French crepes or pastries are rather tempting. My children have renamed the paella man - the yummy man. Maybe a Japanese omelette? I have even witnessed a woman dressed as an ancient roman selling authentic pizza slices and traditional roman fare. Did I say stepped back in time?

So back to lunch idea...mmm Zucchini flowers! Friend of my fresh goat cheese - you'll be going in the bag. I get so lost in the moment here and as a mother of 3, turning that shopping mission into a foraging adventure set to music on a tropically beautiful morning is such an achievement.

Driving back home through the green lush hills with my treasure I thank those canny ladies who brought me to this magical place. Their tiny seed of an idea blossomed into this massive celebration of art, people and food under the fig trees. This is how we are meant not just to forage for lunch - but to gather together as a community. Sharing our knowledge and art and bounty. Taking the time to wander around a farmers market is one of life's simple and greatest treasures. Find one now. Your stomach and sanity will thank you for it. If you're in the neighbourhood one day, you're welcome to share mine. How I love calling it mine! Priceless! I do not remember ever having this love for that huge building of super convenenience.

Do you think the word convenient was meant to quash the word inspiring or beautiful? If you hear yourself saying it too often - maybe change direction.

Eumundi Markets can be found at 73 Memorial Drive, Eumundi, QLD
Open Wednesday 8.30am – 1.00pm & Saturday 6.30am – 2.00pm

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