Last Saturday was the most disgusting day in the universe (although Sunday could have given it a run for its money). Since this past weekend was my first in Toronto, I had wanted to tear the place apart in a day of tourist-worthy exploration. Although my weekend expectations were a little underwhelmed as a whole, the experience of spending Saturday morning at St. Lawrence Market gave way to a rainy day that was nothing short of wonderful.
From my position perched atop a counter stool, here are my thoughts on the marketplace…
Never have I ever experienced such a vibrant epicurean culture contained within four walls.
As soon as I entered the market building, I was met by the most glorious combination of smells. Buttery croissants still warm from a morning of baking, meat spices wafting through the air, flowers from a near by vendor. All competed for my attention and, in doing so, created a scent that could only be described as heavenly.
On the first floor of the market a string trio plays, their eyes closed and their bodies swaying back in forth to the sound of their own tune. Men and women lean around small counters affixed to large poles, their sandwiches dripping meat and vegetables onto their plate.
At the bottom of the stairs is a jewelry vendor selling antique gold and silver charms. The necklaces dangle back and forth, taunting me with their glitter and shine. Those who know me will recognize that antique jewelry (particularly of the gold and pearl variety, if we’re getting specific) is my weakness.
I walk over to the booth, doe eyed and with a stupid small smile on my face. As I paw my way through the troves of precious treasure, I half heartedly ask the vendor’s wife how much the necklaces are. Her answer saddens me. Everything is at least $80. They are real silver after all. Sensing my apprehension, she points to her right where a jumble of tacky necklaces swing. “Those are cheaper,” she says in a patronizing tone. Hmmph, needless to say I admired her fares for only a moment longer before sulking away to continue my cheap student existence elsewhere.
Continuing up the stairs, the sound of people, music and footsteps vibrates up into the high ceiling. The musical atmosphere has changed dramatically from the first floor string trio, and here a guitarist and banjo player (banjoist?) strum a jazzed up version of Canon in D. It makes me think of graduation.
In the centre of the second floor is a housewares store (read: Hilary’s dream area), where I peruse the shelves for vegetable mandolins, non-stick skillets and cute cupcake liners. I can afford only the latter, and happily leave with a box of lavender themed holders. Oh right, I also saw former GG Adrienne Clarkson. She was at the cash while I was checking out plates for food photography. Since I’m partially obsessed with semi-Canadian celebrities (think every CBC radio host in existence), I followed her around, before realizing that I was being decidedly creepy. I switched to lurking on cheese vendors instead.
Speaking of cheese vendors, they were everywhere.
Whhhhhhy did I not have food to get and people to cook for?! I did get to buy some stuff, and ate a brunch of pastries and perogies. Even if I didn’t buy food, it would have been impossible to starve. You see, the number of samples at the market put Saturday’s at Costco to shame. Just walking around, I managed to snag huge chunks of gruyere, brie on crackers, Canadian specialty mustard, ham and a satisfyingly chewy piece of ravioli. I could live off of the samples alone.
My market adventure made me realize that if I lived within a 20 km radius of this place I would come every single weekend. I would be extremely well fed and fat, but incandescently happy.
PS: aren’t these the most fun Kleenex holders you’ve ever seen? I would totally be fine with having a cold if the Easter Island men could soothe me back to health.
Below, a few more pictures of my rainy morning.