Friday, August 16, 2013

Haymarket - Boston

For the poor student, Haymarket is the place that will keep you eating well without constantly asking your parents for money. There are a few of catches though:

1. Some vendors are a little rude.
2. The produce might be ripe, so you need it eat it soon.
3. It's only open on Fridays and Saturdays.

Catches #1 and #3 cannot be changed. However, if you become a regular customer, the vendors will probably eventually recognize you and share a joke with you every week. For example, the potato guy recognizes me and knows that I like the purple spuds. As for the days that haymarket is open, you'll want to go at about 4:30 or 5 p.m. to get the best prices because that's when they're trying to get rid of their inventory. However, if you want the best quality stuff, early in the day is better. Either way, you'll still get better prices than at the supermarket.

The ripeness of the produce is something that you can't really change but if you're willing to invest about $50 for a good dehydrator, you can create dried fruits and vegetables that can be stored for months in sealed plastic bags or air-tight containers. Keep your fruit in the fridge if possible. Dried fruit can be eaten as snacks or used for baking cakes. If you check the prices of dried fruit at the store, you'll see that you can create dried fruit for less with haymarket fruit. However, if you buy fruit at a regular store, it might be cheaper to buy dried fruit. For more information about this, see my blog post on dehydrating fruit.

Dehydrating your veggies is a good way to save space in your kitchen and can be rehydrated and used for soups and stews. You'll notice that the flavors are more concentrated and can make your own soup mixes to take to work. Mushrooms that are reconstituted with hot water will produce a nice flavorful and aromatic broth for cooking.

Positive things about Haymarket:
1. The food is very cheap!
This is probably the most important reason to shop here on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Even if you get one or two duds in your bag, you'll still be saving a lot of money and eating healthier than if you bought your fruits and vegetables at a regular store. A lot of the produce is perfectly good and can be preserved by either dehydrating it or putting it in the fridge. Vegetables and fish can easily be cut up and frozen in plastic bags.

2. Easy to find and convenient
Haymarket is accessible by public transit on either the orange or green line. If you go out the orange line exit, it's just outside the station. Walk past the t-shirt vendor and turn left when you get to the corner. The stalls start a few steps away and cover about a block.

3. Interesting people (who are not students)
Let's face it, if you're a student, you probably see the same people all week. It's refreshing to see a bunch of non-students once in a while, isn't it? Haymarket has a very multi-cultural mix of people and the tourists will come by to check out the place too, on their way to Faneuil Hall. Besides, where else can you see a sign like this:

4. Interesting products in the stores
In addition to the stands filled with cheap fruits and vegetables, there are a few stores with a lot of products that you probably won't find at your local grocery store. Goat meat, Middle-Eastern foods, and a great variety of spices await you in the stores down the steps. You can also get very reasonably priced fish in those stores! We're talking less than $5 a pound of tuna or salmon, depending on availability. If you need a whole salmon, they might have that at only $3.99 a pound. At the cheese place, they have a different variety of cheese each week. For the more adventurous, it's fun to try a couple of cheeses each week and it'll cost you only $5 for two chunks. The thing about cheese is that it's already aged - what's another couple of weeks gonna do?

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