The Importance of Food Markets

P1040090In my hometown I’m a frequenter of farmer’s markets, flea markets, and just about anything else you can attach the word “market” to. When I moved to New York, I thought the life of markets was behind me. In a metropolitan center this bustling, where was I going to find the time to relax in a laid back shopping environment? Times Square? Please shoot me. Macy’s? Give it to me straight, doc; tell me this will be over soon.

But then I started to hear rumblings of a fantasy world where food and happiness were plentiful. It was an exotic world, supposedly, one that might even serve unicorn meat. And no, I’m not talking about Big Gay Ice Cream.

Smorgasburg came to me when I needed it most: when I was living in Manhattan. I found out about it through a New York food junkie and it quickly became the only plan I had for the weekend. Sunday morning I woke up and boarded the train with some friends. A half hour later we were in Brooklyn walking to Smorgasburg.

P1040107Smorgasburg is indeed magical, but it’s still New York. You’ll be packed together like anchovies struggling to get from one vendor to the next. And expect the prices to reflect New York as well. If you’re interested in going to some of the hottest stalls, plan on waiting out in the blistering sun while you wade through a line with the rest of the crowd.

Nonetheless, it’s still an extraordinary market. It feels intimate, and not because you keep brushing against someone’s ass. It feels intimate in a way that New York rarely achieves by having a large collection of vendors who truly believe in what they’re doing. There’s no room for the unambitious here. And the crowds are drawn by their mutual love of food. A food psychosphere forms around Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. And a universal thought permeates the crowd: anyone who isn’t stuffing their face might just be an idiot.


Every city needs a market. Markets show off an oft-unnoticed personality of the surrounding area. The ones in my hometown reveal a tight-knit community, the ones I visited in Camden Town represented a secret desire to sell t-shirts and drugs, and those in New York represent a precise example of the opportunities and comfort that capitalism can offer.

But let’s talk about the food for a moment.

I’ve gotten cemitas, fries, and pigs-in-a-blanket, but for me there are two staples:

Mango Puree from Dosa Royale
There’s something about taking something delicious and blending the shit out of it. I’m talking about smoothies, of course. This mango drink speaks for itself in this category. It should be considered a meal by itself. Once you finish you’ll realize that you just drank a whole mango. And if you have eyes, you may have noticed that mangoes aren’t small fruits. On a hot day this is a necessity. It beats out every other cliché drink at the party and it helped me realize that I enjoy mangoes more than a third of my family.

The Real Fourth Meal

Hibiscus Doughnut from Dough
Hibiscus is one of the best flavors in the world. I’ve been a longtime fan of hibiscus-flavored tea, so when I saw this hot pink doughnut I knew I’d found home. Slightly sour but mostly sweet, this is the doughnut to end all doughnuts. If there were a doughnut God, it would be the hibiscus doughnut. This is the doughnut that you would vote into the White House. This is the doughnut that makes you ask yourself, “Wait. Why should marriage only be between conscious beings?”

Ian Sims
The doughnut that taught me to love

Our article sharpener Bailey James is also a frequenter of Smorgasburg. Here’s what she thinks are some of Smorgasburg’s greatest hits:

Maple Lemonade from Vermont Maple Lemonade
It probably hasn’t occurred to most of you to drizzle your pancake syrup into your favorite summer beverage, but for that I now consider you a fool. The local maple syrup this company uses adds a richness to the normally tart drinks that makes it devilishly easy to slurp the whole thing down in a few minutes if you aren’t careful. Better yet, they pass out squash doughnuts for only a dollar more when you buy a lemonade, so you can combat the dryness with a smooth beverage. This combo satisfies pretty much every quadrant of your tongue (except the meat one. But trust me, you won’t care).

Nachos from El Gato Nacho
These aren’t your drunk 3AM nachos. Loaded with peppers, sweet onions, and even radishes, these nachos transported me somewhere far away from New York (granted, not somewhere I’ve actually ever been before, but I definitely left the zip code). The rojo sauce tied the whole dish into a celebration of all that is good in the world, and I was lucky enough to be invited. Be brave and go for the radishes so you can brag to your friends.


Post by Ian Sims featuring Bailey James.