Good Market Lanka on Saturdays in Colombo

We were very fortunate to have a Saturday in Colombo because that’s the only day of the week when the Good Market Lanka is open. Good Market Lanka is an outdoor market that happens every Saturday in the city of Colombo that is made up of different independent and local social enterprises, artisans, and businesses that are environmentally friendly, organic, and sustainable. The market has over 120 vendors and operates as a non-profit with a brick and mortar shop that is open every day, though each Saturday, anywhere from 70-80 vendors set up stalls in the nuga tree car park at the Colombo Racecourse to showcase and sell their goods. After breakfast at the hotel this morning, we went to the Good Market to see what this “good market” was all about. It was definitely very modern, laid out like a lot of the farmers markets you see in Manhattan or New York, with similar fun signs and awnings to let you know what each offers. But when you take a look at exactly what goods and foods the vendors are offering, you quickly realize that this is anything BUT what you’d find back in the U.S.

We had tastings drizzled directly on our fingers of local fresh and aged Sri Lankan honeys, which had a level of richness and complexity we’d never quite tasted before. We stopped by a hopper stall to pick up a sweet honey version of a hopper, which was made to order in the typical rounded bottom hopper pan and drizzled with honey, served on a small banana leaf. We purchased a cup of avocado “juice,” which was different for us; we’re mostly used to having avocado in a smoothie form, mixed with ice cream, ice, sugar, and milk, and so having it pure and blended with just water and a bit of sugar was unique. I picked up a pair of hand painted, beaded earrings made of locally sourced wood for just 300 LKR (!). We also tried buffalo curd, purchased and devoured Sri Lankan wattalapam, a unique and spongy coconut custard pudding made of coconut, jaggery, sri kaya, eggs, and spices; and a delicious and refreshing hibiscus lemonade. We discovered a treacle local to Sri Lanka that is actually made from toddy palm, which was also new to us; treacle, as I’d previously understood it, is a sweetener that is common in the U.K. and Australia that is like a molasses, made from uncrystallized syrup derived from cane sugar. So we realized while at this market that there’s a whole different meaning for “treacle” here in terms of what it’s actually made of! We stopped by an organic produce vendor who was selling Alphonso (!) mangoes and learned that a number of varieties of mangoes that are native to India also grow here in Sri Lanka. We purchased one Alphonso and had the vendor cut it for us so we could eat on the spot; I figured this would be our last time eating a South Asian mango on this trip, so why not just get it and eat it straight away? All the vendors were so welcoming and friendly. They were eager to explain their products to us, how they were produced, and everyone spoke amazing English, so we didn’t have any issues understanding their meaning.

And if that all was not enough, we also stopped by Jack Mania, a vendor selling all jackfruit based products, which got me really excited because I just love jackfruit SO much! We sampled their jackfruit jam, made solely of jackfruit, lime juice, and sugar. There was no filler in here at all, and so of course, we purchased a jar! And what I noted above is just what we tasted and interacted with directly. There were endless other vendors selling delicious snacks, foods, and desserts, and beautifully hand crafted items. We just didn’t have enough time (or space in our bellies) to take it in and eat it all.

A place like Good Market Lanka is the kind of place where, if we were local, we’d love to come back to regularly to try and sample everything. They even had some live entertainment in the form of a drummer giving semi-lessons to young kids, as well as sinks in the back area where you could wash and clean yourself after indulging in all the delicious food there. It was sad to leave, as I would have loved to have tried many of the other foods there, but time is always limited while traveling. In the end, we were happy to be able to spend a couple hours on our last morning here before leaving to go back home.

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