Market Meanderings


Cleveland’s renowned West Side Market has been on my ‘must see’ list for a decade or so. I’ve heard tales of the historic landmark, situated in Cleveland since 1912. The West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest continuously operating municipal market, and after living in Ohio for 40+ years, I can finally say, 

I’ve been to market, to market to buy a fat pig …

West Side Market

… except I did not buy a fat pig. No, really. I didn’t. In fact, because I wasn’t heading home again, home again, jiggety jig, I didn’t buy a single thing. It was a bit like being a kid at Christmas, standing outside the store with nose pressed against the glass, wishing and wanting and anticipating to no avail. It was a work trip you see, and I wasn’t going home for a couple of days. Any market hogs I could have purchased — or lovely cheeses, breads, pasta or pierogies — would not have a suitable storage place. It was still fun to peruse the aisles and dream of delectable dishes and tasty treats.


Can you imagine how unbelievably hot-n-spicy that jerky must be?! According to a New York Post article, the bhut jolokia — better known as the “ghost pepper” — was once considered the hottest chili pepper in the world and packs enough wallop to potentially kill a person. The pepper rates at 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville heat units, a measurement of spiciness. That’s 107 to 417 times hotter than a jalapeño and 10 times hotter than a habañero. Ouch!


I didn’t sample the jerky, but I did try a rambutan. It’s a medium-sized tropical fruit tree native to Southeast Asia. The outside is covered in soft, prickled skin which you peel back. Inside is a white fruit with a pit in the center. The texture was a bit like a grape, but thicker like mango.


And I longed to purchase cherry chocolate bread. I mean bread alone is fantastic, but mix in cherries and chocolate?! Makes me want to settle in next to a crackling fire, pour myself a glass of dry red, and accompany it with a hunk of lovely artisan bread. I’m sure there’s a good book in that little fantasy, too.

A bit of history about West Side Market, borrowed from its website:

The grand 241′ x 124′  structure has 44-foot high Guastavino tile vaulted ceiling, and a clock tower, which stands 137′ tall. The tower was historically fashioned with a clock designed and manufactured by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. Construction commenced in 1908, the cornerstone was laid in 1910, and on October 31, 1912, Mayor Newton D. Baker hosted the Market’s dedication ceremony. The total construction cost was $734,890.72. Originally, there were 109 stands inside selling meats, dairy products, bread, groceries and ethnic specialty foods. Produce was sold from curb stands until the outdoor produce aisles were erected a few years later.


In the area? Take a trip to Cleveland and experience the unique atmosphere at West Side Market. But be sure to go when you can cart home unique and delicious foodstuffs. Window shopping in a huge, historic marketplace with samples and smells and friendly vendors is amazingly frustrating! (I really wanted to purchase a pound of that pumpkin bacon. My mind was spinning with ideas for a very flavorful Thanksgiving dessert!)

For more photos of the Cleveland experience, follow me on Instagram @farmgirlfollies!



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