In the days of log cabins, horse-drawn wagons, and steamboats, forward-thinking citizens of St. Paul decided they needed a market where farmers could sell their harvest locally. St. Paul's first public market was built in 1853 and has operated continuously since then, although it has moved around to several different locations. Only fresh, locally grown or produced products are allowed to be sold there.
We enjoyed strolling through the market in early October:
My favorite section was the fresh flowers. I think I'd come here every Saturday for a bouquet if I lived nearby:
Another great site to visit in St. Paul is Hmongtown Marketplace, a partly open-air, partly enclosed market that opened in 2009 and is now home to over 200 vendors. Getting out of the car there is like walking out of an airport and suddenly realizing you're not in Kansas (or Minnesota) anymore:
It was lunchtime, and so we made our way to the building that houses the food vendors:
A few items other than food were for sale inside. Need a hairpiece? This is the place to go:
It's always nice to see a sign like this near the food court:
After surveying all the possibilities:
|Stuffed intestines? Um, no. Not for me.|
|This dish looks a lot more appetizing|
|This woman was making some kind of |
sauce that had about 100 ingredients.
I love visiting LA's Chinatown, and for a cultural experience, this market is just as good but much easier to navigate. It's full of authentic food and goods, but in a much more condensed format than Chinatown. It's authenticity comes from the fact that it caters to and is full of the local Hmong population, which is the largest Hmong community in the country--around 66,000 people.
Hmongtown is a shopping and food lover's paradise. I understand that they are expanding. If we ever get back, Bob can head straight for the food building, and I'll go hit the stalls to see what's new.