I went to the SoWa Open Market on a whim, informed of its existence by my housemate Yuri who has a natural affinity for fresh produce and people who make pesto. Located on 460 Harrison Ave, this market is open every Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM until October. You should go for its boastful product selection as well as the crowd, a great smattering of diverse Bostonians who are dogging their totes close, babying their dogs, or toting around their babies.
Yuri and I went from salivating at the Yummy Mummy Brownies stall to sniffing (and ultimately purchasing) homemade lavender honey. We found that each shop owner, whether he’s selling fresh, college-budget corn or something more yuppie than quinoa, was happy to talk to us, often beaming about his craft.
“Want to try something spicy?” one seller asked me.
I stammered, about to be undone by Yuri’s spice tolerance. “Y-yes.”
“Okay, good. My husband loves to dip everything in this chili I made, but me? No, it’s too spicy. I can only have a little. Here, try some.”
The market is bisected into a section selling mostly produce and an area offering mostly crafts and food bordered by other stores like a vintage furniture shop, a letterpress studio, and an art gallery. In the first part did we discover Pestos With Panache by Lauren being served and sold by her very supportive parents who informed me that no, they are not her official taste testers. They happily answered our questions, carefully spooning us Bangin’ Blueberry or Fabulous Fig & Gorgonzola saying, “Here, you have to try this; you’ll love it” in between answering the crowd’s questions with: “Yes, Lauren has hundreds of pesto recipes online” and “Put this on anything—pasta, chicken, vanilla ice cream…”
I encountered friendliness and tastiness as well at Samira’s Homemade, a stall manned by an Egyptian family that exuberantly agreed to talk with me in Arabic. Through my limited collegiate language studies, I was able to deduce that they had given a talk at my university prior to my enrollment, had good advice for my study abroad plans, and make excellent hummus in a variety of flavors on the daily.
Clichés like, “There’s something for everyone!” or “The best of both worlds!” or even “When in Rome!” don’t exactly sum up the SoWa Open Market. It’s better alluded to by my experience with one of its food trucks, Bon Me, which sells Vietnamese sandwiches with Korean barbeque chicken on French baguettes. See, the SoWa Open Market has culture of all sorts: friendly people selling what they care about, and food and clothing that bring you a little closer to other cultures while at the same time reminding you of home. Wherever that may be.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was written up by one of our star interns, David Schwartz. If you are interested in the SOWA Open Market, be sure to also check out our review of the Greenway Open Market, open Saturdays through September 17.