Minnesota Nice: St. Paul Farmers' Market

| August 16, 2008 | 5 Comments
  • 5 Comments

honeyI’ve just booked a trip that ensures that in less than a month, I’ll be happily winging off to my home state of Minnesota. Minneapolis is where I grew up as the pickiest of eaters, eschewing nearly every vegetable aside from corn and artichokes. (Don’t ask where my mother got artichokes in Minneapolis in the 70s and 80s. Or Pomegranates and avocados for that matter, but my mother was born and bred in Glendale, CA and she knew what she liked and she made sure she found it for us.)

However, on this next trip home, I will finally (FINALLY) visit the St. Paul’s Farmers’ Market, the jewel in Minnesota’s market crown. I’ve done Mill City and the older Minneapolis Farmers’ Market. I’ve also done the tiny Thursday stalls along Nicollet Avenue back when I worked downtown at my dad’s law firm. Now, it’s time for St. Paul, the city on the other side of the river. Capitol twin to my beloved Minneapolis.

Befitting a hardworking Midwestern state, the SPFM is only open from April 26th to November 15th. Those dates are certainly significant to any Minnesotan, because we all know that snow is no stranger to May, and I fondly remember a historic Halloween my senior year in high school when we got 33 inches of nice fluffy white stuff between 9 PM and 5 AM.

It was the first actual Snow Day of my memory. (See, we went to school even when the power went out at Jefferson Elementary and when the busses stalled. In the former, we just wore our snowsuits and in the latter, other busses came to get us.) However, Minnesota being what it is, in 1992 the roads were plowed and my dad was on his way to work by noon.

A farmers’ market of some fashion has been operating in St. Paul since 1852. Back then, fresh produce was — as it is now — only available during the feverish and fecund summer months. However, throughout the year and even during the glacial, killing months, they had dairy, flour, cakes, and candies. Now, they also have local baked goods, cheese, poultry, buffalo, venison, beef, pork, lamb, maple syrup, eggs, honey, organic produce, flowers, plants, and shrubs.

Living in the (comparatively) warm Bay Area has definitely softened my Midwestern hide and it’s also babied my palate and kitchen. I’m excited about checking out and cooking the fruits and vegetables I would have despised in my callow youth and remembering, celebrating my sturdy roots.

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About the Author ()

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED's Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED's Emmy-award winning show "Check, Please! Bay Area." Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater's Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called "hilarious" and "the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn't think he or she wants to read a popular science book." Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport
  • tom grams

    Stephanie,
    Great post! Like you, I’m a loyal Minnesota expat now living in the Bay Area. I was recently back in Mpls and had a great food experience at a little restaurant called the Grand Cafe on 38th and Grand in So. Mpls. It felt like Calif. and Euro cuisines brought together using the local bounty and simplicity that I remember of Minnesota. Check it out when you’re there.
    tg

  • http://www.grubreport.com Stephanie

    Thanks so much, Tom.

    Ooh, I will have to add Grand Cafe to my list. I know I have to go to Izzy’s Ice Cream in St. Paul and I really want to track down Surly’s beer.

    Also, no trip home would be complete without a visit to Lucia’s, and I’m also taking my little sister out for birthday cocktails at La Belle Vie; their bartender sounds like the kind of amazing you don’t often find.

  • http://phoenixwoman.wordpress.com Phoenix Woman

    Stephanie, the St. Paul market is open year round — from November to April it’s open Saturdays in a scaled-back form from 9:00 to noon. During that time, it’s mostly meat and dairy products being sold, but other wares are on sale in the deli across the street on the Wall Street side of the market.

  • http://www.grubreport.com Stephanie

    Hm, maybe they need to update their website to clarify?

    About the SPFM

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