To Market, to market, to buy a fat pig.
Date night at the market. The ethnic market.
I follow lots of Cleveland people on Instagram and Twitter. I’m here, I’m stuck, I might as well make the best of it, even as I wish I could be back in California lounging in a pool, or bemoaning the 68 degree cold weather.
Part of what makes a place a place is the food. I’m really trying here. There really is an amazing food scene here in Cleveland, but there are a few issues.
1. Most of these places are expensive. I understand that in general it costs more to supply local, organic, whole foods, but it makes it hard to eat at these places often.
2. The food scene is really small geographically. Tremont, E. 4th St, Ohio City, and…. and…. and that’s about it. So, sorry people who actually live in those areas, that all these foodie jerks from the ‘burbs are crowding into your territory, but that is where we were told to go get the food. Again, not user friendly when you have to drive 30 minutes ALL THE TIME in order to get the “good food”.
3. It’s all the same food, just different. It’s all either the Americanized version, or the Hipster new age fusion version. I see that Cleveland is a culturally diverse area, it’s just not the same diversity I was used to in California. And the diversity is slightly more European, for the most part. Italian? Irish? Polish? Gastropub? Brewery? American Classics? It is much harder to find food that is equal parts “ethnic”, “cheap”, “good”, and “authentic”.
The other day I see a picture of tacos in my Instagram feed. These tacos looked legit, said the girl from Southern California. I mean, these were street tacos. Not gringo tacos. Simple, cheap, and ah-mazingly delicioso. Basic: two corn tortillas, meat, cilantro, onion, lime, salsa. Bingo Bango Yum! So where were these amazing tacos? In a Super Mercado. A hispanic market. Just a small counter in the back with a handful of tables. I mentioned something to MJ, and next thing I know the plan is to meet there for dinner.
I drove 45 minutes to get there. In the middle of “rush hour” in Cleveland. I traveled 29 miles in about 45-50minutes. I drove THROUGH Cleveland in the middle of rush hour around 6pm. I’ll take a moment for those of you living, or have lived in LA or any of those other large high traffic cities to let that sink in…… It’s one of the few perks of living here.
The market was a slice of home for me. Brands that I was familiar with, check! Candy from my childhood, Check! Stocked with random finds that I couldn’t leave with out, check Check and CHECK! It was a chance for me to give MJ a glimpse into what “homey” feels like, looks like, and tastes like for me.
It wasn’t a fancy date. We were eating $3 tacos in the back of a market getting covered in salsa, but it was fun! I got to show off my impressive (not really) Spanish speaking skills. Meaning I’m great at Spanglish, and I can say the words with a slight Hispanic accent. Once the tacos were demolished, I bust out one of the candies. Something I ate alllllll the time as a kid. A chili covered watermelon sucker. So good. Classic. Heck, as a kid we would just buy “Lucas” the chili salt mixture, pour it into our hand and lick it up. No sweet counter balance, just all spice. I don’t even like spicy things, and I LOVE this lucas powder. And now it comes in all kinds of flavors. Sheesh, we weren’t that fancy back in the day. I coax MJ in to trying. He hated it. Oh well. More for me then…..
But now there is this idea. That why haven’t I been going to all these small ethnic markets more? Many of them do have prepared food, and even if they don’t have the tables, it’s easy enough to make a picnic out of it if you can find a park with a few shade trees.
Next on the list – find a Japanese market. One with those Japanese jelly candies, that look like jello shots and come in flavors like lychee. Maybe one that has a tiny sushi bar in the back….. Well, a girl can dream.