IMG_1215Photo feature by Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — A day before the farmer’s market opened, I was talking with a friend and fellow Havana Times blogger about this fair, which is set up on weekends from time to time on Havana’s Zanja avenue, a place where a bit of everything – and particularly food – is sold.

He told me that he had criticized the fair in his post, referring to it as the “bread and circus” that Roman emperors used to give their people, explaining that, where there was nothing, anything that came along or any celebration that was held was welcomed as something extraordinary.

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This fair is indeed like the Roman “bread and circuses”, a taste of the countryside in the city. This past Saturday afternoon, I decided to take a few stills of this improvised market, when nearly all of the vendors where selling the last remaining goods and gathering up what little remained, leaving behind corn cobs and pineapple cores, bare plantain stems, bits of cassava and malanga and empty cardboard boxes over reddish earth, right at the doorsteps of the locals, who looked in awe at the mess.

Near the end of my walk, I heard a patrol car’s sirens and saw several police officers running towards a street corner. I heard a crowd of people yelling, approached them and saw that they police had handcuffed a man. I didn’t ask what had happened. I thought only: “Show’s over. I wonder when the next circus will come to town.”

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3 thoughts on “The Farmer’s Market on Zanja Ave., Havana

  • Thanks Juan for this vignette, extraordinary photos and as if I was there. Cuba will survive and get better with people like you!

  • I know this market well. It is located at the corner of calles Zanja and Infanta. The prices are no cheaper than the agros, only the selection is better. As “circuses” go, it’s no big deal.

  • Too bad you got there when the show was just about over, although I’ve seen plenty of these farmer’s markets in full swing elsewhere (e.g. La Lisa). Although your friends says that they just offer “Bread and Circus,” where is the circus? Looks like it offers bread–or at least veggies and legumes–to me. Moreover, it is more authentic than the so-called farmer’s market in my home down, which has shrunken to just a few farmers, but many sellers of pottery, jewelry, shiatsu massages, gourmet coffee, home made soaps and perfumes, etc., all at lux prices. For real produce, at good prices, I now have to go to farmer’s stands, out in the country, or purchase a share in a C.S.A. (Communiety Supported Agriculture) farm. Ditto the so-called cooperative here in town. Forty years ago it started out as a buyers club. It expanded and expanded, but somewhere in the process it lost its soul. Now it, too, is strictly a boozhie venue! The “circus” part was the arrest (probably of a thief), which seems a hell of a lot more entertaining than the food prep. demonstrations that pass for “circus” at “our” local “coop!”

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