Fresh asparagus and bok choy, potatoes from the Palatinate and Middle Eastern delicacies – the weekly Mannheim market is as diverse as the city. On the Marktplatz (Market Square), located in the G-Quadrat (G square), one of the actual squares that the city centre is divided into, 60 suppliers offer fresh local products for sale three times per week. The market has been a central meeting point in Mannheim for over 400 years – for locals, tourists, gourmets and star chefs like Dennis Maier.
It is just another Saturday in Mannheim: Since eight in the morning, thousands of people push their way around the goods showcased in some 60 market stalls with colourfully-striped awnings that local merchants set up around the market square fountain in front of the historical Old Town Hall. On top of the fountain plinth, the statue’s four elements—Mercury, the god of commerce, Mannheimia, the goddess of the city, and the personified rivers Rhine and Neckar—watch over the hustle and bustle that has taken place here for over 400 years.
You can find fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, sausages and cold meats, dairy products, fresh herbs, delicacies as well as flowers. In early May, the goods display is dominated by fresh-cut asparagus and strawberries from sun-kissed fields. There is hustle and bustle, noise and great fun, and smells and tastes everywhere. Here, people do not only look and buy, they laugh, natter and chatter and talk lots of shop.
Dennis Maier examines the wares with the eyes of a connoisseur. “Mannheim is a paradise for asparagus enthusiasts,” says the star chef. A few-minute walk away from the Market Square, he runs the culinary management of the restaurant Emma Wolf in the basement of the shopping mall ‘Stadtquartier’ in the blocks Q6 and Q7. “To the south, Mannheim borders on the famous asparagus-growing area of Schwetzingen and to the north on that of Lampertheim. Thus, at the weekly Mannheim market to pick the very best of the world’s finest selections of asparagus, you are spoilt for choice.”
As a boy, Dennis went with his mother to the weekly market every Friday. “This was the day that the stalls were put up in the Mannheim part of town ‘Gartenstadt,’ at ‘Freyaplatz’ market square. I was born and grew up there and the market was a quiet event, compared to the main market here in the G square.”