With the smell of fresh-baked empanadas in the air, the vivid colors of the vegetables and the uplifting music of an accordion, every one of my senses piqued as I walked past the market stands. The combination of the sights, the smells, the sounds and a little bit of that rare sunshine was the perfect recipe for an instant dose of happiness on a crisp Saturday morning.
The Rochester Public Market, open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, offers an array of fresh food sold by local vendors. From vegetables to fish to homemade pasta vendors, the market provides Rochester residents with a variety of foods and spices for purchase. In addition, coffee shops and empanada stands solicit passersby with their temping scents.
After watching my roommate come home from the market each week with a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, I decided it was time I tag along with her. Admittedly, this was only my second time going to the Rochester Public Market. Having been at RIT for three years now, it’s hard to believe that I could let all that time pass without more frequently taking advantage of all the market has to offer. With a usual weekly grocery budget of $30, I attempted to reduce that figure by a third, hoping to buy a week’s worth of groceries for only $20 at the market.
At first, purchasing food at the market seemed a bit overwhelming; the wonderful sights, smells and sounds suddenly put me in sensory overload. However, a stroll though the stands quickly excited me to begin my bargain shopping adventure. My first purchase was a bunch of cilantro, sold for only $1! I love the unique taste that the herb adds to food, but given its price ($2 for a bunch at Wegmans), it’s generally not on my typical grocery list. My next purchase was a container of salt potatoes, 15 of them for $2. Hoping to get reimbursed for the purchase (this was a work adventure after all!), I asked if, by any chance, I could get a receipt. After a confused look, I got an “I think I can make something for you” from the vendor. Next thing I know, I’m being handed a six-inch piece of cardboard with my purchase, the price and the date. The best part: the “receipt” read “Salt Patotes.” Still pleased by this unfortunate misspelling, the makeshift receipt now hangs in my apartment for everyone’s amusement.
Needless to say, I didn’t ask for a receipt for the rest of my purchases which included: two hot Italian sausages for $2, a pint of strawberries for a dollar and a half, a half pound of cheese curds for $3, a quarter pound of homemade pasta for $2, 15 tomatoes for $3, a grocery bag full of spinach for $2 and my favorite purchase of the day: three heads of cabbage for $1! Spending $17.50 in total, I’d call my trip exceptionally successful. I managed to get a lot of the staple items I buy routinely (potatoes and tomatoes) while also indulging in my inner foodie by purchasing the local sausage and homemade garlic chive pasta.
Toting my new purchases home, my mind flooded with all sorts of delicious recipe ideas. The fresh strawberries, I decided, would be delectable topping hot oatmeal with a squeeze of honey. Having the dish for breakfast during the week, my anticipation was well placed; the cold strawberries and the sweetness of the honey were perfectly refreshing on a cold morning. I used the tomatoes, spinach and cheese to make a delicious wrap pizza, a quick and healthy meal for a busy night.
Overall, my time at the market was more than positive. The low prices and fresh, local food are just bonuses to the wonderful experience of strolling though vendors and seeing the sights and hearing the sounds of the Rochester Pubic Market.