Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rebuilding Eastern Market

Photos: Eastern Market after the fire

I'm going to start with a place near and dear to my heart: Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. A few weeks ago, the market was gutted by an electrical fire. My husband Seth and I are (like most Capitol Hill residents) devastated. We have visited the market almost every weekend for the last few years. As you can read in the numerous Washington Post articles about the market, it's far more than just a place to purchase groceries. The tastes of delectable cheeses from the staff at Bowers Fancy Dairy Products; custom-cut filets from Union Meat (and cooking advice); the extra banana or tangerine the Calomiris family always throws in at their produce stand. You can't get this at Whole Foods, people. Laden with bags, you also never know who you might run into. Eleanor Holmes Norton? Colleagues? Friends on a blind date? Next door neighbors? Everyone comes. We seem to always run into people in front of Canales Deli - I don't know why.

I'm talking in the present tense, because I constantly forget that Eastern Market isn't exactly itself right now. I plan menus in my head, and am then shocked when I remember I can't buy the fresh pasta, the loaf of challah, or the turkey sausage. Seth and I are adrift in our grocery list, having no good idea of where to buy things anymore. Does this necessitate a trip to Whole Foods on P Street, fighting for a parking space? Will Safeway have it?

We miss it. Seth is upset that he never thought of asking me to marry him there, as did one Hill resident. We are grateful that the market is going on, and that efforts are underway to rebuild the market and provide vendors with alternative space in the meantime. It's heartening to see the construction ongoing, but awful to smell the soot and vague odor of charred food.

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