Monday, September 1, 2008
Jenny and the Giant Peach
Our vacation to Portland and Seattle was an exercise in me not researching and over-preparing for every moment of a trip. Since we speak the language and had a place to stay in each city I figured I could relax about the details for once.
The one thing on my "must-see" list in Seattle was Pike Place Market. I knew it would be crowded and touristy (and that there might be cool places in Seattle that are more worth a trip), but I love greenmarkets and farmers' markets and covered markets, so I had to see it. I didn't consider there would also be a mixture of non-food stores (like a tiny magic shop and an art collective boutique) and souvenir shops. I did think it might be bigger, with more produce, but that isn't to say I was disappointed. The produce that was in evidence was plentiful and prettily displayed (though with some hand-lettered signs begging people not to touch the merchandise. I'm supposed to buy produce I'm not allowed to touch?).
My favorite store in the market was a spice and rub (and tea and sundries, etc.) shop near the entrance to the market (hang a left at the tourists crowded around the fish tossers). This is the spice cabinet of my dreams.
My least favorite experience in the market was being heckled by vendors. I don't get people selling things who single out and heckle their potential customers, but some customers probably find the vendors to be funny and charming. I was tiring of the patter of a guy at a pasta stand when he called to me (as I was standing against a pole to steady my camera while trying to get a good flash-less photo), saying something like, "Young lady, [note: he was younger than me] when you finish holding up that pole, you should try our chocolate pasta." I did not choose to sample the chocolate linguine. I was taking a picture, not lounging against a pole.
Heckling is one thing, but I don't mind barkers. Or free samples. That's why I gladly headed over to the man handing out slices of what he claimed was "Possibly the best peach you'll ever eat" in front of a display of the same peaches and a sign that said "Oh My God Peaches." It looked pretty enough:
I didn't eat it for several hours, though I was risking giving it an inadvertent bruising. I took that peach to the Space Needle park first, intending to eat it on our picnic there, but only photographed it near the fountain and didn't actually get around to eating it until I got back to the house. The anticipation of waiting (hoping it would be excellent) could have hurt the experience, but when the moment came it seemed only to make that peach sweeter.
Because although I did not say, "Oh my God," when I bit into it, that barker was right. It was probably the best peach I've ever eaten. I should mention that it was also the most expensive peach I've ever eaten ($2!) but, in the end, so, so worth it. I'm talking big, soft, tree-ripened, sweet, juicy, and meltingly tender (and not bruised much after hours of being carried around). It was so heart-rendingly delicious I even found myself somewhat reluctant to share a few bites with Dan and Eva (though I did). Just Uh-Mazing!