The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Fitting words to describe Central Market in Lancaster, PA. I’ve written about the market a few times, and that’s because I have such a soft spot for the place. I lived in Lancaster from 2002-2004 — during those two years, the market was a regular fixture of my weekend routine. I loved roaming there, and I’ve missed it terribly since I’ve been gone.
So you can imagine how quickly I bounded out of bed on Saturday morning to drive up to Lancaster. I was excited to attend my friend Denise’s wedding (I’d post a pic of the beautiful bride on her wedding day, but I think she’d kill me), and I was pumped to get to Central Market before changing into suit and tie. Ultra pumped.
Rolling into the city is a mixture of nostalgia, comfort and familiarity. All the street names come back to me. I know where to go without using the GPS. Even with the arrival of new stores and the disappearance of others, the area looks and feels the same.
Here’s the outside of the market.
And inside, the view from one of the new additions, a second floor eating area.
Ground level view.
First stop was a no-brainer: The S. Clyde Weaver stand for a bag of Lancaster beef jerky.
Shoo-fly pie, a Pennsylvania Dutch favorite.
I loaded up on so much produce that I barely had a free hand to take out my wallet.
One of my favorites, the spice stand.
It’s the same guy working there, and the spices are in big jars, like an herbal apothecary. Everything is so cheap compared to the ridiculous prices at the supermarket; a big bag of bay leaves cost me a mere $.50.
Saif’s Middle Eastern Foods where I used to buy spinach pies and samosas.
Picked up one of the wildly spicy samosas and damn near burned my mouth off. It was too hot actually — I think they went a little nuts with the spice.
The Amish Family Recipes stand — couldn’t resist picking up a Blubarb Jam (blueberries and rhubarb) and a bottle of hot sauce.
There are a few new additions to the market, like the salad and African foods stands, but the chicken, seafood, meats, cheese, fudge, bread and crafts stands that I knew — all still there.
Grabbed a fat burrito from Senorita Burrito and lumbered out with my bags.
The next morning, it was back to downtown Lancaster again, this time to Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie.
They do some nice savory crepes for breakfast, like this Western omelette crepe with a side of chive hash browns.
Then, before heading home, one last stop on Franklin St. to the Vietnamese grocery store, Viet My.
Where there’s a woman inside preparing banh mi at a small counter. Am I passing up a banh mi? Uh, no.
With bags of Central Market produce in tow, I headed home.
On the drive back, I thought about why I love the market so much. The obvious answer is the variety, quality and price of the products. More than that though, is the sense of community and continuity. You run into people you know there. Vendors address you by name; some of them have been there for decades. The market’s a special place to many people, and it’s remained that way for over 275 years. That’s unique. It’s nice to know that in our disposable society, some things keep on ticking.
23 N. Market St.
Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie
309 N. Queen St.
550 N. Franklin St.