Seattle’s Pike Place Market
One of the most famous national food markets that I’ve come across is Pike Place Market located in Seattle. Having just visited Seattle for my second time ever (thanks to my brother and his family for moving there), I had the pleasure of discovering the wonder that is Pike Place Market. Just off the coast of Elliot Bay, and located in a city with access to all sorts of bodies of water, this market’s specialty is undoubtedly: fish, and lots of it.
Particularly, the largest tourist attraction at Pike Place Market is the Pike Place Fish Co.’s flying fish. With every order of fish, the name of that fish is called out to be wrapped and then flung through a distance with just seconds warning. The fish is then wrapped and thrown back out to the fish monger. Think “3 mussels and 1 rockfish” being yelled out and flung in the air. Two seconds later, “2 Alderwood Salmon” and the crowd ducks. Something about fish flying through the air is entertaining, to say the least.
See a short clip after the jump!
(Sorry that was only about a second. This particular fish was intentionally thrown over a passerby’s head and then a fake fish was thrown out into the audience. I wish I caught the whole thing, it was hilarious!)
But I have to say that while many come for the entertainment, this particular fish company has earned their reputation with high quality fish. Sure, they have a bay at their fingertips, but I have to tell you that I sampled some of their Alderwood smoked salmon and it was the best smoked salmon I’ve ever had. I went through the arcades (that’s what they call the different levels in this market) and tried smoked salmon from other fish purveyors, but nothing topped the samples I tried from the original Pike Place Fish Company.
Pike Place Market isn’t just fish though. It’s a whole lot of other things likefresh fruits and veggies, handmade pastas, nuts, and aisles and aisles of gorgeous flowers. I fashioned myself one hell of a lunch from the samples of smoked salmon, bing and rainier cherries, jams, and hazelnuts. Literally: you name the food and it was there, all homemade from fresh produce.
Of course this probably sounds like any other market you’ve been to, and for a market with a famous reputation, this kind of description is probably the least you’d expect. But Pike Place Market is not only filled with trinkets, flowers, and all sorts of fresh fish and produce, it’s rich in history too. Just last August, the Pike Place Market celebrated its 100th birthday. That’s 100 years of high quality fresh foods served to the public. The picture you see above of the “Public Market Center” sign is a famous shot that has been photographed over and over since cameras were invented. Think about that.
Not to mention, the Pike Place Market area is home to the original Starbucks. I didn’t get to buy a drink there (way too crowded) but I grabbed a quick photograph. Just like any historical institution, it was nice to see it kept its original form. And on top of Starbucks, Pike Place Market hosts the original Market Spice company, a store famous for its spice blends and teas. It was there I picked up my first batch of Herbs de Provence.
It seems as though having a storefront at Pike Place Market puts yourself in a position to make history. My family and I stopped for snacks at the “Piroshky Piroshky” stand to purchase a couple piroshkys (sp?). My brother had the rhubarb, and my dad and I were interested in the potato, onion and mushroom. Piroshkys seem to be like a sort of cinnamon roll made with all sorts of ingredients besides cinnamon. Our potato mushroom piroshky resembled more of an empanada, but either way these sweet and savory treats were the perfect snack! Only open since 1992, this food stand has lines out the door and many followers.
But back to the produce. Aside from the cherries, it seemed the fruit of the season was certainly pluots. A cross between a plum and an apricot, these handheld fruits are juice machines. I tried one of course and my hand was dripping with subtly-plum-flavored juice. I wasn’t complaining.
Maybe it’s the tourist in me, but still after all this, my favorite part of the whole experience was the fish. Watching the large crowds gather to watch fish fly by was pretty hilarious and since I bought a can of salmon, I even had fish fly over my head! I think fish juice dripped on my hand. Gross? Yes, but hey, it’s all in good fun! I can’t wait for my next trip to Seattle.