10 Reasons Why I Love Pittsburgh | Reason #2
Reason # 2 Strip District Market
In mid 1970s, when I arrived in Pittsburgh, there was not an International Isle in the local supermarkets. Vegetables such as okra (called lady’s fingers in India), turnip, long purple eggplants and kohlrabi were unfamiliar to the grocer. Goat meat was unavailable, and lamb available only during the week of lent. This was frustrating as I took as much pleasure in buying mouth watering raw ingredients as preparing scrumptious dishes.
Couple of weeks after our arrival my sister, who had settled in Pittsburgh five years prior to the year we did, drove us to the Strip District. Driving through 13th to 33rd street on Penn Avenue she said in that market place I would find everything and anything I needed. And I certainly did.
Before parking the car, we drove in the direction of the façade of a magnificent church reminiscent of Romanesque and Baroque architecture. Later I learnt it to be Saint Stanislaus Kistka Cathedral built in 1892. Every time I see the cathedral it feels as magnificent as it felt the first time I beheld its grandeur. It contrasts with the informality of the market.
From the parking lot we walked to the strip. An altogether different sight came to view: farmers selling freshly harvested vegetables and fruit, their aroma scenting the air. On the roadside, bouquets of flowers at display, selling at such reasonable prices!
Inside Robert Wholey’s Fish Market, different kind of fish, shellfish and meat were at display on ice, and inside glass showcases ready to be sold.
Inside Macaroni and Co. spices and oils were for sale. It was as if I had never seen such stuff before. Inside Kim Do Chinese grocery I purchased lotus root, purple eggplants, okra, kohlrabi and the vegetables I was craving for.
Going to the Strip District had become a weekly ritual for my husband and I. That was four decades ago. Since then some of the stores have closed down. Yet new ones have opened. One of my favorites is, In The Kitchen, where I get my knives sharpened.
On a recent shopping spree we enjoyed Thai lunch at Little Bangkok.
Now we don’t go the Strip often. Local grocery stores sell most of ‘exotic’ vegetables and other international produce. I find everything I need at Giant Eagle’s Market District including kohlrabi. Do you know what it is? Check it out next time you go to buy groceries.