In Ancient Greece, the agora was an open assembly space for great minds—a hub for art, politics and religion. In English, the term still has lofty undertones. In modern Greece, however, the word has come to indicate an actual marketplace. The term laiki agora, or just plain laiki, means ‘people’s market.’ Bringing affordable fresh produce from farm to city, these lively fruit and vegetable markets feature both sellers and producers. Not quite what the Ancient Greeks had in mind, but still delicious.
There’s a novelty factor in terms of how the laiki operates. With the exception of the two central markets—the one just below Athinas Street and the Central Market of Renti, which is mostly wholesale—the laiki are not fixed in one place, but pop up in different neighbourhoods (and sometimes on different streets) once a week.
For a few hours every week, regular streets are completely transformed. Starting at dawn, benches, counters and canopies are assembled on the spot and filled with seasonal, regional produce. Fruits and vegetables, eggs, flowers and plants, and about a billion different varieties of olives almost spill off the colourful counters. Sellers try to peddle their goods by shouting witty one-liners such as “This is a not a stall, this is a boutique.” Or: “My dad just left, I’m giving everything away!” Around 3 pm, everything is disassembled and the street goes back to normal for another week.