Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a recipe post. But it is, of course, about food! And it's hyper-local, which is something I don't often do, but the occasion merits it.
I've been spending time at the Easton Public Market in the demo kitchen, in preparation for the big grand opening this weekend. The market hired me a few months ago as a consultant to help assess the needs of the kitchen from the equipment, pantry, programming and human resources angles. I've been working closely with them and it's been an absolute pleasure and an honor to be a part of this massive undertaking. There are so many details involved, most of them invisible to the general public. There are countless meetings and conversations and emails and phone calls and text messages and inspections and decisions and on and on. And there's already been one (mercifully short) power outage, during that crazy rainstorm we had last week. Hopefully, we've gotten that out of the way early.
While I was there, I helped unbox, wash and square away equipment and ingredients. We also tested out the oven a couple of times. I also pitched in on whatever random thing someone needed help with—I helped stabilize a shelf while someone drilled holes, and do other random things, like track down the compost bucket for the kitchen. I love watching people do things behind the scenes; it's truly inspiring. The energy has been all over the place—excitement, frustration, tension, fatigue. I see it all on the faces of those doing the hard work, vendors putting together their storefronts and their equipment, and amid the noise, buzz, and dust of last-minute construction work, such as drilling the hand soap container into the brick wall in the back of the kitchen because the sticky adhesive was neither sticky nor adhering.
I know I'm not alone in my excitement, and that vibe just generates more good feelings overall; they become contagious in the best way possible. I'm so jazzed, there aren't even adequate words. It's mind-boggling to think about how long this has been a dream of Megan McBride and the entire team at the Easton Farmers' Market and GEDP. Some people said it wouldn't happen. But now we have 15+ vendors coming into the space on a permanent basis, with a farm stand full of local and regional foods (and even things like lemons and avocados, which are decidedly neither but will address downtown grocery needs) and a number of prepared food vendors doing crepes, pizza, beer, Egyptian food, barbecue and so forth. We will have a place to buy fresh fish; we are going to have a whole-animal butcher. There will be a noodle bar, for crying out loud. No, this ain't Brooklyn, and damn if I have to invoke something with an assumed cool factor just to show in comparison what we've got. But think about it: we're a city of less than 30,000 people, albeit situated in a region of nearly a million people. This ain't no small thing. We are already on the map, no doubt in large part to the farmers' market and the stellar restaurants. This public market, however, is a bonafide game changer. Please come out and support the local food movement. I promise you, it will be delicious.