A Taste Tour of Tynemouth Market

Chrissy ON Jun 09, 2013 AT 3:55 pm

by Chrissy Iley

Tynemouth Market had been a place where I found some great vintage jewellery, the odd antique framed picture and even furniture. It started off as a tiny affair and every time I go back to my home town the Saturday market sprawls further.

There are now a plethora of cup cake stalls, home made chocolates for humans and cookies for dogs. There is also fresh produce: some very nice oils infused with herbs and spices. We bought the herb garlic olive oil dressing and the Kashmiri Bazaar Blend which invigorates a stir fry (two for £7). Sarah Cooke proprietor of SSh… is also a landscape gardener, so she grows the herbs in her oils and is also selling Cretian extra virgin oil.

Sarah Cooke’s Shhh

You can go from the South of France via Morocco to India in a taste tour. Rather alarmingly it what was next door to the oil stand that caught my gaze. Amid the home made fish cakes, lasagnes, pastries and cakes, was meat but not meat that I recognised. It was long and thin sitting in its little while cellophane wrapping, but cylindrical.

It turns out to be squirrel. The smiling stall lady at Ridley’s Fish and Game said the tag line is: eat a grey save a red. Our population of red squirrels has been devastated by the greys, a stealthier invading breed from North America.

But do they do taste any different to the red and should this squirrel eating be encouraged?

Weirdly, and this is really weird, on the night before the market visit I’d had a dream that one of the two grey squirrels that live in the tree outside my house in LA had decided to come inside. The cats are constantly trying to chase they squirrels and make kill sounds – eh, eh, eh, eh – at the window. One got stuck Garfield-like on the mesh screen he was so determined to catch his quarry.

In my dream the squirrel was wearing a collar and chatting to the rest of the cats in cat and they were all walking around together. Obviously this could never happen, but how strange when I’d woken up with such a warm furry squirrel feeling that I should see them packaged.

The lady told me how they are trapped, lured into a comfortable cage with food and their last hours on earth are happy until they are killed humanely. They are caught by preservationists in Northumberland to stop them wiping out a surviving colony of their red cousins.

There was also rabbit and venison for sale, multi-coloured eggs from happy legs and the lady told me which coloured hen had laid which coloured egg. And giant goose eggs that looked like they’d been laid by dinosaurs.

In reaching out for some oat coated salmon fishcakes for my mother I noticed a pie called squabbit pie made of a squirrel rabbit cocktail. We decided not to try it. The infused oils however were sensational.


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