Living here in London I was amazed to find that I can eat ‘native’ foods such as kaukau (usually orange in colour – yet to find a white or purple one), taro (two types), yams, tapioca (unfortunately minus the tapioka dance), cooking bananas (plantains), breadfruit and a whole lot of greens eg. bak choi and taro leaves (rarely), and of course coconut. My local veggie markets stock everything and anything except bak choi and taro leaves. However, open markets like Brixton, Peckham and Shepherd’s Bush hold many types of PNG veggies. I’ve yet to find pitpit or aibika. Another thing you can find is buai which is great for the avid buai chewer in these parts. There are wantoks here who know where to find these precious gems and it is always a good idea to seek their advice on where to get your next supply.
There is always a local market where you are and you are sure to find most of the PNG veggies. I have one local market and a whole host of grocer shops around the neighbourhood so there is no shortage of PNG veggies. In some stalls vegetables and fruits are sold in bowls. Mostly for a £1.00. Innovative and quite convenient if you want to buy in bulk for a function and don’t have the time to rummage around boxes of fresh produce. If you don’t want a whole bowl full there are stalls nearby which sell loose veggies and fruits so you are not limited.
The other thing to worry about, or perhaps not, but say you are catering on a specific date and want to do a mumu with your favourite ‘native’ (PNG) veggies, it is always good to check out the local markets beforehand and where possible place an order for collection. Sometimes you may not find all that you need for your menu and that can be abit stressful but you can either substitute with another veggie or change your menu. Either way yams, tapioca, kumera and plantains are always in plentiful supply as well as taro tru and breadfruit and know where to get these. Another good source is Chinatown’s veggie and fruit vendors in the heart of London.
One could also find in these markets meat and fish as well as a whole range of spices, various types of rice, tinned stuff and clothing, footwear, luggage and plasticware. Apart from these kind of stalls and small shops, there are also service-oriented shops, hair salons, fast food shops, electronics and pharmacies. This is one such shop that I frequent for kitchen and home needs.
You can find almost any veggie or fruit you want in these shops that open out on the streets of small towns and centres literally along side post offices, and supermarkets. I think the only challenge is to find a parking spot and that on this drag can be a right royal headache. But once in a while you can duck in and pick up something if you know exactly what you want and where it is exactly and duck back out again. But it pays to watchout for the signs that allow you to park on the curb for limited periods. There is no browsing along such roads if you don’t want to be in a fix with the law.
So there you are. Local markets are a great source for fresh food and veggies and also for clothing, footware, tools, plasticware, kitchenware, even furniture in some. Survey your neighbourhood when settling into your new accommodation etc and I’m sure you will find all the conveniences that make life easier and comfortable. I think this also allows you to acclimatise and adapt to your new surroundings faster and comfortably.