Nadi Central Market in Fiji

We are well and truly back from Fiji and it’s now a quickly-fading but highly-perfumed memory.

You can get a real sense of  place through local markets and Nadi Central Market was no exception. Bursting with colour and fragrance it was a  highlight of the trip for me.

Fresh food is sold by the bundle (or little plateful) rather than by metric weight.

The pounded or masticated root of the yaqona (kava) is used to make the powerfully potent, mouth-numbing traditional drink that is found all over the South Pacific. The best kava is apparently made by chewing the roots (although pounding and grinding with something other than teeth is equally common) and mixing the resultant moist paste with water.

My sister-in-law drank some of this kava.

I didn’t tell her it might have been chewed beforehand. I’m a big proponent of the “try everything once” school but I just couldn’t bring myself to drink any. Pretty much because it might have been masticated beforehand.

Here are bundles of the roots wrapped in what struck me as a very Dr Suessian manner.

This is hand-rolled tobacco.

Smoking is bad kids, but I appreciated this for its deep, rich colour and smell and handmade-ness. I hear snuff is the latest thing in the UK so if I were a baccy-loving chap I’d be onto importing this in a flash.

The fish market was my favourite bit.

It was comforting to read this:

Each fish, or bundle of fish, is strung through the gills and out through its mouth with a loop of palm  fibre.

To get that last photo I had to ask the fishmongers if I could join them behind their white-tiled bench for a fish-mouth view. They readily agreed. But it was also  clear they thought I was  insane. Made me smile.

I loved this.

I like to think the back story is that before she passed away, Mr Veera Swamy (Baaja Wala)’s  beloved wife berated him every day for not being home from the market on time. “But there is no clock with which to tell the time ” he would respond. So this was his posthumous dedication to her. I wonder if he is still alive. And if so, sometimes comes to the market  just to look up and check the time. And remember.

These are fern tips wrapped in banana leaves. I bet they are crunchy and delicious.

Love the way they stack the oranges into towers.

Actually, now I look again at the photo, I’m not sure they are oranges. They might be a native citrus?

That  morning  really took me back to the days when I used to wander around the fresh food markets in Rome, often perplexed by what I saw, but totally inspired.


We went to get two goldfish and came back with a heater, a lamp, water conditioner, water buffer, live brine, a scoop, cleaning thingies, special dried fish food and two temperamental but very beautiful Golden Balloon Rams which are not, despite their name, of the ovine variety. They’re fish.  And thank goodness, really. It took a little bit to convince my handsome husband that we (ie, he) would love cleaning the tank every week. I think bi-annual shearing would have really been stretching the friendship.

They really are the funniest little fish. They’re territorial but they do chat to each other if they happen to meet in the tank. And when they do, the iridescent blue spots on the back half of their bodies and fins light up. It’s pretty amazing.

I love this next photo because if you look carefully on the far left, you can just see Lucy’s head in the reflection of the tank wall. She spends a lot of her time hiding behind her jar. While if you squint at the right hand jar, you can just see Lucy suspended inside hers. Hiding. Or so she thinks.

Oh yeah, did I tell you they are both named Lucy? Yep. They’re both named for our beloved Lucy who looks after the girls two days a week while I’m working. So now we have three Lucy’s in the family. And we feel very lucky indeed.