Kangaroo, anyone?

Joanna Lobo | Updated on July 06, 2018 Published on July 06, 2018

Walk, eat, love: A tour of Adelaide’s Central Market helps you work up an appetite, which can then be sated with a delicious array of local produce   -  JOANNA LOBO

Eighty stalls. Endless samplings. Smiles all around. Have a taste of Adelaide’s Central Market


The name is telling. At Something Wild, I have my first taste of kangaroo and crocodile (smoked), green ants (crunchy) and sea succulents (salty). I wet my throat at Proudly Kangaroo Island with a sampling of Kangaroo Island Gin, flavoured with herbs, and some snake oil (tonic syrup).

I am in Adelaide, in South Australia, soaking in the stories and tastes of its nearly 150-year-old Central Market.

It all starts with Steven. Posters, big and colourful, announce his presence. ‘Steven’s your all organic man’ and ‘Just ask Steven’, the posters, put up across the market, declare.

It turns out Steven is actually Stephan Oulianoff, who started the Central Organic stall in the market over 30 years ago with his late wife Maria. “He is an octogenarian, one of our oldest residents here. You will find him here every day, talking to customers,” says my guide, Cheryl Turner.

Ask anyone in the market about Oulianoff and they will tell you his story or encourage you to buy something from his stall. It’s the beauty of the Adelaide market — everyone knows everybody else, and their stories. “It’s a real community atmosphere here,” says Turner. “It’s what makes this place so special.”

History lessons

Turner’s guided tour of the market begins at a small side lane, dull to the eye except for one piece of history on the wall: a commemorative plaque. “This market was established in 1869. There used to be a market prior to that run by Richard Vaughn called the East End Market. He would charge the local producers to come and sell. They got annoyed that he was getting rich on the back of their hard work and decided to leave,” she says.

Early one January morning in 1869, a group of market gardeners with their carts made their way to the Victoria Square precinct. The site was a vacant allotment with a few gas lights. Here, they set up shop and by 6am their stock was sold out. This was the first day of the City Market (as it was known then).

An illustrious history: This hand-painted plaque has a list of the families that were part of the Central Market when it was established in 1869   -  JOANNA LOBO



It officially opened a year later. Producers sold their ware on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. After many changes over the years, the refurbished Central Market opened in 1966. The old façade may be gone but the hand-painted plaque remains, reminding customers of its origins. Besides the founders, the plaque has a list of families who were a part of the market.

“You will see a lot of Anglo, Italian and Greek names: it shows how multicultural this place was even then. Many of these families are still here, the stalls passed down through generations,” says Turner.

The Marinelli family, for instance, is still around, selling mushrooms. The Konstantinoffs are popular because one member of the current generation, Jesse, was part of the reality show Married at First Sight. “When I bring schoolgirls here for a walk, they get excited if they find Jesse at the stall,” says Turner.

One of the celebrities here is Lucia Rosella. Lucia came to Adelaide with her husband and two daughters from Italy in the 1950s. One day her neighbour asked her what she kept cooking that smelled so delicious. It was the pizza, a dish that was still new to Australia then. “Ten months after moving to Adelaide, she started the first pizza bar in the country, introducing us to pizza, and other Italian fare,” says Turner, pointing to the bustling Lucia’s Pizza & Spaghetti Bar. Today, her two daughters continue the tradition, and the family now owns a charcuterie, a delicatessen and a juice store.

Food talk

Lucia’s were the first to introduce a coffee machine in the city, so our day begins with strong shots of espresso. Since the restaurant is crowded, we settle next door at Mark Gleeson’s Providor.

Gleeson, who comes with 30 years of experience in the food tourism and hospitality industry, is the man behind the tours. “This is the most significant produce market here, with 80 stores each showcasing the best the region has to offer,” he says. The stall he co-owns sells sweet and savoury goods (there’s a chocolate fountain too), many of them made by local cooks. I try the famous honey crackle — a chewy mound of sweet cereal made by a youngster putting himself through college; and the apple pie, baked by a woman from Adelaide Hills.

Gleeson has designed the market tours in a way that allows people to sample what’s on offer. After all, what’s a market tour without food? I begin with a fresh carrot cold-pressed juice at Jamu — the Rosella family’s dairy-free, unprocessed plant-based juice bar. Next is a sampling of the creamiest Greek yoghurt, wholesome and free of additives, at The Yoghurt Shop. I have my kangaroo and crocodile and then the drinks.

I try the local brie, Camembert and Roquefort at Say Cheese and The Smelly Cheese shop. To cut through all the meat and cheese, Turner takes us to stalls selling juicy plums and pears.

The sampling is followed by lunch at Lucia’s — a big bowl of spaghetti bolognaise. The tables around us are full. “This place is always busy. If you have to meet a local at this market, they will tell you to meet at Lucia’s,” says Turner. “It’s a landmark”.

Just like the market itself.

Joanna Lobo is a freelance writer based in Mumbai

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Published on July 06, 2018
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