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?
Kim, I love your description of the markets, and your memories of Saturdays as a child sound idyllic. Thanks for sharing.
Good morning, Denise! Thank you for reading. ❤️
I love markets! Around here there are a number of them from May through October, as well as two permanent farm markets. I don’t buy produce anywhere else in season, and everything tastes better when you get it at the market.
I agree, Kitty, fruits and vegetables taste best from the market.
My Saturday always starts with a good sleeping in and tea – a very relaxed way to slide into the weekend.
I used to love going down to the Strip District (a big shopping area with lots of local and ethnic foods, as well as fresh produce) in Pittsburgh, until the parking and the walking defeated me. But they are planning a redesign, so maybe I’ll be able to go again!
Liz, I hope you are able to go again soon. You know, I can’t start my Market day without my coffee from Zeke’s!
I’m addicted to town markets, wherever they are, and they seem to be a Saturday tradition. I’ve tried them in the Yucatan, Italy, France, and of course Ireland, which seems to be as much of a social gathering as a place to buy food. Whole families, kids, dogs, elderly ladies sharing a cup of tea–they’re all wonderful. (Sadly my Massachusetts town can’t compete, although there are some good ones in Plymouth and even Boston.)
Sheila, I would love to visit markets in those countries!
i love this, Kim! I grew up going to grocery stores in Iowa. What a great tradition you have.
The closest thing we had to a grocery store in South Baltimore was Steve’s Market. It had a duckpin bowling alley on the second floor. Mom and Daddy belonged to a league there on Thursday nights. That was the only time we ever shopped there and even then it was for canned goods only. I was a bit starstruck the first time I went into a Giant. All those clean, orderly aisles were impressive. I still love the Giant!
I go to a local farm stand during the season. They close for the winter. They have the best corn and tomatoes
There is nothing like fresh corn and tomatoes!
I’m a grocery store guy. The easier it is for me, the better.
Saturday tradition? Can’t say I really have one. Some weeks, I’ve got something going on, but this weekend is looking very free. Can’t wait to just sit back and relax.
Have an enjoyable Saturday, Mark!
What a cheery piece to start the day. Thanks! I love farm stands and there are a lot around where I live. Can’t say I go a lot. I tend to way overbuy and then end up with spoiled food. Not a good thing. But I love them anyway!
I can be an over-buyer as well. I’ve learned to freeze things, especially berries. They’re great in smoothies later.
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