Emma’s Eats: Eastern Market

BY EMMA SLONINA, Staff Columnist

Sure, the rosy strawberries and spring asparagus are distant memories, but crisp apples, bloated pumpkins, and piles of vegetables entice you with the prospect of warm, hearty comfort food as the days get cooler.

To stock up on harvest goodies, I recently visited Detroit’s Eastern Market, where I also enjoyed the delicious Supino pizza from last week’s article. I knew it was big, but I didn’t quite realize how big. Several sheds full of local vendors teemed with shoppers and countless wares.

Each shed is laid out like a cross, making it difficult to keep track of where you’ve already been if you’re not paying attention. My mom and I took our time, though, and carefully covered every inch of the sheds.

We didn’t waste any time. We bought a punnet of plums, a few zucchini, and seriously debated buying pumpkins to carve for Halloween from the first vendor we saw outside of the first shed. Ultimately, we decided against the pumpkins so we wouldn’t have to drag them around the rest of the market.

One vendor was selling bunches of herbs, including elusive lemon thyme. We bought some along with fresh oregano and decided to make a batch of pork provençal for dinner (recipe included with this article). Several other vendors had fresh herb plants for sale, but I have a terrible track record with caring for plants so I resisted the urge to buy any. Perhaps when I can remember to water them, I can start a little herb garden…

Besides produce, a few vendors were selling fresh meat or offered the chance to order some. One table had two laptops sitting on it, one playing a video about the heritage swine raised on the family’s farm, the other with an online order form. A little boy stood transfixed, watching the splotched Berkshire pigs wander around on screen.

Huge sculpted apples decorated by local groups and artists stood amongst the vendors, as well as an enormous carved pumpkin that came up to my waist and weighed hundreds of pounds, at least. The apples apparently helped to promote the Michigan Apple Festival, which I had the misfortune of missing.

Adding insult to injury, the weekend we went was the weekend of the Michigan Brewers Guild Beer Festival – five days before my 21st birthday. We didn’t even bother wandering amongst the tents selling and probably giving out samples of locally brewed beers.

Instead, we wandered into a heated shed full of hardy mums in every color imaginable. They blanketed the floor, somewhat like those little fuzzy-topped creatures in Disney’s rendition of Alice in Wonderland. Some of them were absolutely massive, perfectly round and dense flowers (unlike the pitifully small one I had in my bedroom that fell victim to my neglect).

We eventually made it out of the main market area and, after lunch, stopped at Ronnie’s Meats – a retail store on Gratiot boasting a massive variety of products. We grabbed a pound of pork for our dinner and headed back home to take a well-deserved nap and start cooking. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Eastern Market holds their Saturday Market year-round, 5am to 5pm. Tuesday Market runs during the summer only. For more information, visit http://www.detroiteasternmarket.com or call (313) 833-9300.