The 134 year-old Eastern Market on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC was virtually gutted by fire today. It was the last of the city's traditional markets, home to numerous vendors, some of whose businesses date as far back as 60 years. Fortunately, the structure of the building was saved and already there is a clamor to rebuild it.
For many years we lived right across the street from the Market and popped in and out of it regularly. Its funky Market Lunch was the best place in town to eat soft shell crab sandwiches and cole slaw, as well as crab cakes and more. We always brought visitors to the Market, and they were delighted to experience a European-style shopping experience in these United States.
In the summer the sidewalks outside filled with seasonal vendors selling all manner of fresh fruits, veggies, and artsy crafty wares. One of our favorite characters there was a tooth-free elderly dame who supposedly peddled "local" products---when we sniffed the strawberries, she could always be counted on to say, "Them's Driscoll's, Honey! " ( Errrr....you mean from California?)
No doubt the outside sellers will be there once the structure is stabilized. And Eastern Market, a community meeting place and the heart of Capitol Hill--a place not lately associated with much warmth--must indeed be preserved. It is a food heritage site that should be high on any foodie's list.
( Pic from www. pps.org)