Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday with a purpose

There are an infinite number of things you could do on a Saturday - lounge around, go hiking, shop til you drop, meet friends for brunch, do that DIY project you've been planning on, clean the house, do the laundry, read the paper over a nice coffee and more.  For one of our first Saturdays here in Portland, we decided to do one thing that you cannot do on Saturday unless you live here- go to the Portland Saturday Market.

An open-air market for local artisans, the market was set up in the 70s by two women and is still going strong.  Based on the Saturday Market a little farther south in Eugene, the two pioneers wanted a place where artists could have an economic outlet, local people could have access to local arts and crafts and the city could have another dynamic event that pulled the community together.

We headed down at mid-morning with  my sister Alex who had come to visit us for the day and accompany us as we checked out our new city.  The market has since expanded to include food booths and stands, which is the first thing that you notice about the market - the smells that woft for blocks.  It's a stark contrast between the Chinese food and elephant ears but with samples, you can't complain.  The first sample we gobbled up was what I can only describe as an inside-out waffle - the parts of the waffle that are normally squared out were full of yummy fillings!  Rich to the max, it was a tasty appetizer, a little pintxo if you will, but I could never eat a whole one!  We moved on to the incense store where even incense-hating-Alex was enticed when Joseba found her a Vanilla Coffee incense stick.

From Peruvian scarves and Indian tapestries to spices and magnets, there was nothing missing at the market that now boasts more than 400 members!  With over 750,000 visitors each year (while it's only open March - December) the website states that the artisans make an average of $8 million gross all together!  Incredible!

We did our best to support the local craftmen and women by buying an array of things.  First of all we bought some natural hand cream that seems like it would be greasy but turns out that it soaks into your skins amazingly and leaves them silky smooth - you can never say no to that!  We, and when I say we I mean Joseba, also bought a local whiskey (well I guess in this country it's called bourbon but you know what I mean) from a local guy.  While I hate whiskey (and bourbon, scotch - that whole family) Joseba swears it is delicious and when I smell his breath after he drinks a bit on the rocks, I can tell it is mighty strong.  Being a paper bag community, he was given a paper bag for his whiskey and proceeded to walk around with it, brown bagging it, like a drunk homeless man.

Alex was tempted to buy a ring at one of the booths where everything was made from kitchen silverware - spoons that loop into glasses, clocks with moving forks, the works!  And to finish our day at the market we sat down with some tasty food cart food.  Thai food for us girls and Joseba grabbed a manly plate of falafel.  The choices were endless though - Polish, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian and the list went on!  It was probably the toughest decision of the day!

And no day in Portland is complete without a cardboard cup of coffee to carry around, so we jumped on that bandwagon and got a cup of joe too as we listened to the band on the stage rock out as we wandered around some more, soaking up the Portland Saturday Market on a sunny day.