Zagreb After Hours

If you get to the Dolac, or any of Zagreb’s markets, just as it’s closing, you’ll see a small army of old women in three-quarter length worsted skirts, digging through the leftover boxes, looking for food.

This is Zagreb after hours.

You can get quite a meal, if you know what you’re looking for. Rather than take a lovely half box of spinach home, or to the bin, vendors will simply leave it behind on their table. They have places to be, homes to get back to. They’ve been working since before morning. And these enterprising old women, in their three-quarter length worsted skirts, know how to find a bargain. A handful of spinach, a half crushed bunch of radishes (the other half still fine), a couple of bruised oranges, a cabbage in good condition. You have to pick your battles; you probably won’t get any strawberries worth having. Even capsicums and tomatoes are hard to come by unless you want them very soft. But you could live off these spoils, in a pinch, if you had to, as long as you had somewhere to cook.

Coming home from Tkalčićeva last night I passed the Konzum. I guess they had just closed. There was a crowd of old ladies, in three-quarter length worsted skirts, shopping trolleys in tow, going through the boxes of produce that the supermarket had left out for the rubbish. Bread, pasta, lemons, lettuce – all fine, just out of date. Those old ladies, they know a thing or two about Zagreb after hours.

Zagreb After Hours-lady

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.

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