Thursday, March 03, 2011

Things to do in DC: Eastern Market

I have lived in the Washington area for 31 years, but have never been to Eastern Market. I always thought that was kind of sad. I know people who live really close to Eastern Market, I remember being bummed when I read about it burning down and being happy when it was built back up, but still. I just never got my rear in gear enough to head down there on a weekend and check it out.

Enter JR from stage left.

JR is a friend I have known since my freshman year at William and Mary. We were instantly drawn together through our love of theater and the absurd. Also, he likes to read about economic theory, European philosophy, and Proust and if you ever meet someone who actually likes Proust you must remain friends with them FOREVER.


JR is one of my peeps who lives around Eastern Market and we had met for dinner in his neighborhood to celebrate my birthday. As we chatted about a myriad of topics including politics and astrology, somehow the subject of how I have never been to Eastern Market came up. "We should go sometime," he said. "I'll have to look at my planner...maybe sometime in March?" I responded. He then gave me a look that filled me with guilt. I mean, it's kind of sad that someone who used to be Miss. Spontaneity is reduced to having to plan something at least three weeks in advance since I'm so busy running around.

"You know what?" I told him. "Screw it. Let's go tomorrow morning." And we did.

Outside Eastern Market

I drove into DC and met up with JR at 10:30 the next morning. We then fought our way on foot through one of the most windy (but sunny!) days this winter to Eastern Market. It wasn't really what I had expected; I had always pictured a huge warehouse full of vendors along the lines of Portebello Road from the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Instead, it was a smallish place where purveyors of excellent foodstuffs including meat, fresh vegetables, and homemade pastas and baked goods hock their wares to an audience of yuppies. There were a couple antique and furniture sellers at a lot across the street, but Eastern Market itself is pretty much all food all the time.

And there ain't nothing wrong with that. I got some spinach fettuccine and marinara sauce that made up my dinner during the week and it was fantastic. Also a loaf of fresh ciabatta bread. Next time, I think I will get some pork loins and maybe try a cupcake or two from the great bakery stall.

So, to conclude: Eastern Market equals fun, but not quite as quirky as I had imagined. But right when I was lapsing into some yuppie-induced despair, JR walked me around the corner and showed me one of the most awesome book stores I have ever seen--book were literally stacked floor to ceiling. FINALLY. It was like a bookstore straight out of my turn-of-the-century steampunk dreams.