Sunday-before-last, I convinced my friend and neighbor, Lucy, (who needed no convincing) to go with me to the New Amsterdam Market in Manhattan. Since reading Island at the Center of the World, I’ve been really fascinated by the New Amsterdam period of New York City, and while this market’s history doesn’t go back that far, the vision behind it is rooted in the distant past, when lower Manhattan was the hub of regional food trade.
The market is a mix of prepared food stalls and market stalls, so you could buy everything from French pastries (which we did) to apples and fresh fish. There were even a few non-food vendors, like Bowne Printers, who work out of the South Street Seaport Museum and use old-fashioned letterpresses and historic fonts. The first vendor we spotted was a Dutch woman in traditional Dutch clothing making poffertjes (mini pancakes.) Lucy is Dutch, so we tried the pancakes while Lucy had a short chat in her native tongue.
The extra-special thing about that week’s market was the arrival of the Ceres, a sailing barge built by farmer Erik Andrus and the Vermont Sail Freight Project. I wrote a little brief about the project for Edible Manhattan. I’ll wait while you go read it.
Pretty cool, right? After writing the story I really wanted to see the boat and buy from them, so I placed an order using their Good Eggs shop and selected the New Amsterdam Market as my pick-up site. Unfortunately, the food was there but the boat wasn’t—apparently they did a few laps in the harbor, then docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Here’s a picture of my order (minus the pumpkin—that wasn’t mine) and the Vermont Sail Freight booth. I loved, loved, loved that they put handsome little stickers on all of the products to help brand their project. My dry beans even came in a little cloth bag with “Vermont Sail Freight” printed on it, which means I am obliged to keep it forever.
Obviously I’m a little taken by the novelty and charm of the project, which has special appeal to me since I am so unaccustomed to the world of boats; however, my hope is always that projects like this one, and the New Amsterdam Market itself, will grow beyond charm and novelty to become staples in our food system. I do hope they keep the stickers.