Kim, in Baltimore, hiding out in the air conditioning.
I was probably about nine years old the first time I went to a grocery store. My grandmother didn’t believe in them. Anything we needed we could buy at the market she always said. Saturdays were market days. After breakfast Mom and I would trail after Nana as we walked over to the Cross Street Market. The market, built in the early 1900’s, is in the Federal Hill neighborhood of South Baltimore and was only several streets away from our house. Nana bought all our groceries for the week there. We started at the Utz counter to get out chip tin refilled and ended our visit with me racing past the seafood display because I hated the way the fish stared up at me.
Market meant family to me. I knew following our shopping we would return home to a house full of Aunties and cousins waiting for us. Nana would make dozens of sandwiches and Mom would put on the coffee. I was in charge of plating all the sweet treats we bought at Muhly’s Bakery on the way home. We ate and talked and Pop-Pop would play his guitar. Saturday was always my favorite day.
Many years have passed, and though my grandparents are gone, I have kept faithful to the market tradition. There are still market places operating in the city. In addition to the Cross Street Market we have the Lexington, Broadway and the Hollins Market to name a few.
For the past seven years I’ve been spending my Saturday mornings at the 32nd Street Farmers Market in Waverly, an outdoor market that is open year round. It’s nice to see families with the children being pulled along in wagons by their parents and to listen to the many musicians scattered throughout the stands. It’s also a great place to catch up with neighbors, and former co-workers. Last year I ran into a young woman I had babysat when she was a toddler and was delighted to see she now has a child of her own.
Under the white tents you can purchase anything from coffee to smoothies and even whiskey. It’s hard to decide which stand to visit first. There’s a French bakery where they make crepes, both sweet and savory. Mark, the accordion player, will entertain you while your order is prepared. A long line of customers can always be found waiting for breakfast sandwiches at another spot or in front of a truck that makes wood oven pizzas.
In addition to fruits, vegetables, meats and poultry, there’s goat milk fudge [which is absolutely delicious and gluten free, too!], falafel,kombucha, waffles, and even beer. My visit always begins at the same place, Andy’s Eggs and Poultry. I need to get the staples of my meals first.
The most important factor of the market for me is meeting the farmers and the people who are making what I am feeding my family. In today’s world where so much of our food is processed and contains products I can’t even pronounce, I want to know exactly what ingredients I’m eating. This is the main reason I shop local.
Over time the markets may change, as well as my shopping and eating habits, but Saturday will always be my favorite day.
Dear Reader, what is your Saturday tradition? Do you shop your local markets?