By Serena Soh
Growing up in a SoCal town blessed with perfect weather for growing produce, I always looked forward to my family’s weekly trip to the local farmer’s market. Every Sunday from mid-morning to early afternoon, booths were set up along a walkway situated between the gigantic Costco parking lot and a medley of restaurants. Excited vendors representing their family-owned enterprises shouted out their fantastic deals and offered a range of products from spicy apricot jam to fresh jalapeño goat cheese to jars of locally sourced apple honey to hefty butternut squashes. It was quite the treat for each one of your senses: the sweet samples of fruit, the bustling locals visiting each stall, the vibrant produce and the vendors’ booming voices. It was such a popular excursion destination that not recognizing a single familiar face at the market was rare. In fact, I’ve come to believe that this pop-up market is a staple of our small town’s community, even though it only exists for a few hours each week and disassembles within minutes.
These Sunday markets are one of the many, many things I miss about my hometown, which is why I was ecstatic to learn about the weekly markets on California Avenue. Week 5 of spring quarter is a bit of a late discovery on my end, but now that I know about it, I plan to make up for the lost time. And if you happen to be near California Ave on a Sunday morning or you’re looking for a short off-campus excursion (the distance is for sure bikeable, or you can Lyft for around $5 round trip), this is a place you definitely want to visit. Another awesome part about the market’s location is that it is held between a row of restaurants like Mediterranean Wraps, Kali Greek Kitchen, Izzy’s Bagels, Joanie’s Cafe, Cafe Brioche. If you’re craving more of a hearty meal after your produce shopping, take a break from dining hall food and enjoy a nice sit-down lunch.
My first trip to a Palo Alto farmer’s market was with my best friend who had also never ventured through California Ave (despite her living in the area … literally a few streets down). Nevertheless, our lack of any preconceived expectations made the whole experience a bit more exciting in my opinion. As soon as we got out of the Lyft, we were greeted by a vendor selling sets of mini-succulents and aesthetic branches of beachwood (perfect additions to spruce up your dorm room!). Then were the bountiful, green produce stands with stalks of English peas and flawless bunches of carrots; I swear they looked like they were straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. By the time we made it to the fruits and nut stands, we were surrounded by crowds of people strolling while munching on their latest purchases. My favorite buy of the day was a bag of granola from a bakery claiming to be dairy free, sugar free, vegan, gluten free etc… you would think that there would only be air to bake with after eliminating all these crucial ingredients, but the granola itself was surprisingly delicious. If that seems like a little too much for you, don’t worry, there were also various booths selling regular, gluten-filled pastries and loaves of bread. As we reached the end of the street, we were drawn in by the mouth-watering aromas emanating from a dim sum booth, rotisserie chicken food truck and vegan cuisine booth that served its food in cones. We were too full from brunch to indulge in the food truck delicacies, so that’s where you’ll find us this Sunday!
Contact Serena Soh at sjsoh ‘at’ stanford.edu.