Of all the Farmers' Markets I've visited around the globe, and there have been many, the setting for the Mei Foo Farm Fest in Hong Kong has to be the ugliest.
The market is beside an inter-city bus station, under a noisy, concrete highway overpass, surrounded by chain link fence and hemmed in by 99 water- streaked high rise towers, most of them a lifeless grey. To top it all off, the day we visited, the air was thick with pollution making it a bit difficult to take a deep breath.
And yet, of the three organic farmers' markets I've visited in Hong Kong, Mei Foo was the largest with the widest variety of fresh fruit and veg, dry goods and cosmetics.
The interesting thing was that once we started to wander through the market, engaging with the vendors and seeing all the lovely things they had on offer, the ugliness of the surroundings disappeared. Even though only two or three of the 25 or so vendors spoke English, everyone was generous with samples and happy to let me take photos.
|Eggfruit. Something strange and new|
We tasted eggfruit or pouteria for the first time. Its outer flesh was yellow but inside was an orange-coloured interior with a pasty texture that tasted like cooked pumpkin even though it was raw.
If I'd had a kitchen available, I'd have stuffed my bags with fruit and veg, all of which were fresh, robust looking and quite cheap.
Instead, we settled for some sweet, fresh strawberries, a few star fruit with a deep and complex taste that I've never experienced from star fruit before, some freeze dried strawberries that I intend to grind to a powder and sprinkle on vanilla ice cream and of course a few of the strange eggfruit.
I learned something from my visit to Mei Foo that day. Even surrounded by ugliness you can find beauty.
If you do go, and I think you should if you have the chance, it's easy to get to. Take the MTR's Tsuen Wan Line to Mei Foo and take Exit B.
When you reach daylight, go west and follow the Lai Chi Kok Road that runs parallel to the Kwai Chung overpass that will be on your right.
A few minutes along the Lai Chi Kok Road, under the overpass you'll find the market and you'll see the vendors' tables draped in green.
For further adventures, continue on the Lai Chi Kok Road and you'll reach the Mei Foo wet market that's worth a look too.
The Mei Foo (美孚) Farm Fest
Sundays from 11am to 5pm