For the regular readers of this blog, you might remember some of my previous posts about flea and thrift markets here in Romania. The draw of these places is huge – the vast array of things you can see and find is always guaranteed to be interesting: the sights, the crowds, the smell of freshly cooked langoș and mici, the sellers on their little stalls blasting Romanian music on hi-fi systems from the 90s – it’s brilliant. However, on my most recent visit, there was some ugliness to be seen as well as all the good stuff…
I was, as always, treated to some spectacular displays of jumble stalls filled with miscellaneous items. My personal favourite being a man selling a modest pile of coats, a ladies boot and a brown shoe.
Although the majority of my time spent here was pleasant and interesting, the visit took quite a sad turn when it came to looking at the animal section. Seeing animals in small cages is never nice, even when they are alone in the cage and have space to move…so seeing dogs, rabbits and birds piled on top of each other in small cages was pretty grim to witness. I saw a man buy a rabbit and proceed to put it into a plastic carrier bag to take it home, and later, a bird seller putting the birds into tiny paper bags once they’d been sold – the type of bags you’d get penny sweets in.
The most shocking thing I saw, was a group of puppies that had recently had their ears “cropped”. This procedure is banned in many countries, including Romania – it was shocking to see these poor pups with raggedly stitched up half-ears. When we asked the seller why this had been done – she said, rather defensively, that it was for their own good in order to prevent infection. Even though Romania is slowly improving its animal protection laws, it’s sad that more is not being done; the lack of animal welfare organisations and charities is astounding. Largely, the mentality regarding animal welfare here is quite behind the times and drastically needs to change.
Cheese is incredibly different here in Romania in comparison to the UK. Fresh cheese here is known as brânză – it’s white in colour and its texture is soft and crumbly (not unlike Greek Feta). Brânză can be sweet or salty and is used in many ways for lots of different dishes. It is usually made in the countryside by people who own farms, then brought to cities to be sold at markets. The smell of the ‘cheese section’ of the market always surprises me. It isn’t the normal cheese smell that you experience if you were stood by a cheese counter in an English shop – it is an incredibly sour and pungent smell that really hits you. For cheese that makes such a pong, the flavour is actually quite mild – it is very creamy and doesn’t have a typically cheesy taste but more of a gentle sour taste. Also, when you heat it, it does not melt as readily as you would expect a cheese to melt.
Most blocks of cheese that you find in supermarkets here are not considered to be real cheese by locals. It is known as cașcaval – yellow in colour, hard or rubbery in texture and very similar in appearance to what you see in English shops. The taste is very mild and not intense at all – in fact, the flavour is almost non existent.
So cheese is quite interesting here, I am yet to discover one that has a truly strong cheesy taste like that of a good old block of English Cheddar.
Flea markets are very common all around the world, they are a great way to sell your unwanted items, or even some new products.
From my past experiences at Flea or Thrift markets in other countries, they all tend to look quite chaotic. Lots and lots of items spread across tables or on blankets on the floor.
My experience at a flea market here in Romania was fairly similar to in other countries, but one thing I did notice, was the way in which some things were put on display. There were huge piles of clothes, leather scraps and shoes all around the market. Clothes were not hung on rails, were rarely even separated into groups of similar items and shoes were not paired together; which made it quite difficult to find anything! It seemed even more chaotic than in previous markets I’ve seen.
People in the UK tend not to sell broken things, or things that aren’t in an acceptable condition. It is different here – nothing is thrown away. I came across numerous stalls which were full of broken things – it seemed as though people were selling absolutely everything and anything they have.
- Flea Market Finds: Vintage Platters (domesticspace.com)
- Flea Market Finds: Loving the Hunt (functionallyfrivolous.com)
- Saturday Flea Market (daniellestobb.wordpress.com)