When we first considered life in Seattle, I was unsure. Moving away from friends and family would be difficult, and what could a new city really have to offer? We came for a visit this winter, and the moderate temperature was almost enough to sway me away from my blizzard-ridden homeland right then and there. And then as we wandered through the streets, needing neither gloves nor hats, we came to the market.
The Pike Place Market, as you are probably aware, is one of the most touristy of all tourist attractions in Seattle. Flanked by the Gum Wall and a ferris wheel, right on the water, it is a mecca for landlocked tourists hoping to catch sight of some thrown fish and maybe buy a bouquet of flowers to keep in their hotel room for two more days (no judgment, I did this too). But it is also one of the oldest continuously operating farmers’ markets in the United States, open nearly every day for over 100 years.
As I’ve grown up, food has become more of an interest and priority in my life. Where does it come from? How is it grown? Is it going to make me feel good, and is it also going to taste good? Well, when you live near a farmers’ market, the answer to all of those questions are the ones you want. Nothing sketchy about buying apples from the guy upstate who’s running his family’s orchard (PS – I had completely forgotten about Washington being “known” for apples until I started eating them here. They are truly outstanding.) or buying corn so fresh the farmer has you take a bite of it right then and there, raw, to prove its sweetness.
So we came to Seattle, and we now live a ten-minute walk from Pike Place. I tuck my reusable shopping bag under my arm and head out. I get a bouquet of peonies, the produce I need, and after many enticing samples, the fruit I hadn’t known I wanted until I tasted it. I can buy mussels from just a short boat ride away and jelly that your grandma might have made. I’m getting to know some of the vendors, and we make jokes and exchange greetings, and as I walk home, I feel full, not just with food, but with community.