I always love visiting my hometown, St. Louis, Missouri. It’s always great to see family members and old pals. Many in my friend base are people who have been in my life since the fourth grade of elementary school. They know pretty much all there is to know about you and your family and your family’s family. No room or time for pretense. Here, you can let your hair hang down with little regret.
There are many things I do as a ritual when I am home. But, one of the most important is a visit to Soulard Market. It doesn’t matter what season it is or what Mother Nature has concocted for the weather that day. It brings back such pleasant memories of my childhood when I am there…the smells, the sounds, and the colors. If I close my eyes super tight, I am nine or ten years old all over again.
As a child, I came here on so many trips with my grandparents on a warm, summer afternoon. We would ride down the highway pass the Gateway Arch, head south pass the old Courthouse where the historical Dred Scott case was decided and within minutes, I was scrambling to put a few nickels into the slot for the parking space before running off to pick out a ripe watermelon with my grandfather. My grandmother was a discerning shopper. We never left until her grocery cart was brimming full of brown paper bags stuffed with fresh delights.
In the autumn, my mother would bring my sister and I along as she picked up squash, nuts and tangerines. Even now as an adult, when I see tangerines, those memories come rushing back. She would give us each a quarter and we would run off to purchase a super big, red and white striped box of buttery popcorn, which we happily ate while enjoying our stroll through the two long lanes of the market.
Soulard Market is deeply embedded in the history of St. Louis. It began in 1779 and is one of the oldest farmers’ markets west of the Mississippi. Considered one of the oldest public markets still in existence in the United States, many farmers have been selling at the market for several generations. Each week, Wednesday through Saturday, you can browse the stalls of local farmers for fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, bakery goods, great spices and gorgeous flowers.
And, if that isn’t impressive enough, it is one of the few places I know where you can leisurely enjoy a fabulous spicy polish sausage and an ice-cold beer on a super hot day in the middle of July while shopping for your fresh produce. A delicious adult experience to now add to my memory bank alongside the remarkable childhood gems.
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