I'm going to keep this one a little shorter. We actually went to Adelaide's central markets twice, first in the morning on Friday and again later that afternoon when we returned from Henley Beach. While in the morning the markets weren't alive with the hustle and bustle of folks doing their shopping, and the shop keeps weren't yelling out their latest bargain for bananas, ($1 a kilo! Bananas! $1 bananas!) I think i preferred the quiet stillness of the morning. I didn't feel rushed or like I was blocking anyone's way, and I was free to cut across aisles without looking for a break in the cross traffic.
The main product on sale was definitely fresh produce. There were also plenty of meat and cheese stalls selling all sorts of strange sausages and things like kangaroo meat balls. The third most prevalent stall/shop, probably accounting for about 15% of the businesses was what I would call natural/ethnic/spiritual shops. It would be unfair to call them eastern medicine because they were run by westerners, primarily, and catered to the western shopper. Fragrance oils, crystals, numerology cards and cheap looking cast statues of eastern gods and goddesses were the order of the day in those shops, along with some other ethnic nicknacks and an assortment of legitimate eastern wares like lumps of frankincense and myrrh. The fourth most prevalent shop catered to any hapless boguns who might have wandered into the shop. Australian flag shirts, shorts, hats, bandanas, adorable stuffed kangaroo animals, genuine kangaroo testicle flasks, (I'm not joking you can buy that crap here) picture frames, and the most disturbing rubber kangaroo think I have ever seen. It belonged in some post-modern Salvidor Dali meets HR Giger horror film the way it was stretched out and emaciated with a baby demon rabbit/kangaroo bursting out from it's stomach. I think it was one of those rubber figures you can wrap around your pencil, but I was too weirder out to actually pick it up and mess with it.
The layout of the place was a little maze-like. The center bit had a big open warehouse feel to it, but each end there were connecting atriums which radiated into hallways that had more of the Asian-oriented stores. Groceries, travel agencies and dim sum / Thai food restaurants ruled that region. Curiously, there was also a "24 Hours"* Coles right off to the side of central food stall area as well. I know the market is only open 4 days a week, but it seems like you would want to be a little further on from your direct competors than in the exact same building.
I will say one thing, all the produce and food product looked extremely fresh and was all probably local sourced. This is in stark contrast to the Sydney markets, where I imagine an unscrupulous stall owner could merely walk into any random Coles or Woolworths**, buy some produce and mark it up five dollars at thew market. The food just wasn't that impressive in Sydney. Jamie says that, for example, you can actually believe the guys at the kangaroo meat ball place probably own a farm with the kangaroos on it. We could only be so lucky as to have a market like Adelaide's in Sydney so we could buy fresh grown produce for our home cooked meals.***
Wishing for cheaper, fresher produce,
*Nothing is truly open 24 hours in Australia. For example, the Coles was closed from 9 to midnight for restocking, and boasted the extravagant openings hours of 10am to 5pm on Sundays!
**Yes, that Woolworths. I know you probably thought Woolworth's department stores died in the 1980s and 90s along with Hecht's, Dillard's, Bell's, Foley's and the hundreds of others in the United States, but they escaped to Europe and Australia and are alive and well. I saw a bunch in Germany during my trip there, and they are all over Australia as well, although I think their focus here is more on groceries than anything else here. They still have the other departments, but you wont find clothes or a much of a stemware selection, for example.
***Instead of going on diets or trying to simply "eat healthy" consider doing what we did. Get rid of your Microwave. If you're like me, nothing truly healthy comes out of your microwave except for hot water and tea. Jamie and I cook our dinner from scratch every day, and we take turns alternating with our roommates so we only have to cook every other day. I haven't been this healthy since I was 18 and swimming 4 days a week for 2-3 hours a day.