Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To Market, To Market — Farmers Markets by novelist Leslie Budewitz

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Lovely readers, do you love a farmers market? I do (hello Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket with your homemade doughnuts and hot-spiced apple cider) — and so does today's guest, double Agatha award-winning novelist Leslie Budewitz. 

She's the author of The Food Lovers' Village series; however, her newest novel, ASSAULT AND PEPPER, coming March 3 from Berkley Prime Crime is the first in her latest, the Spice Shop Series. And its setting is a farmers market — THE farmers market — Seattle's Pike Place Market. Here's a taste:

Just a pinch of murder... After the year from you-know-what, Pepper Reece finds a new zest for life running a busy spice shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are a hit and everyone loves her refreshing spice tea. Pepper is convinced she can handle any kind of salty customer—until a murder ends up in the mix.

And here's Leslie on Seattle's Pike Place Market as well as the legendary markets of France — take it away Leslie!

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Does anyone not love a farmer’s market? The Pike Place Market in Seattle originated in 1907 when the city council created a market for farmers to sell directly to “housewives.” On the first day, THE farmers ran out of produce before they got their trucks unloaded.

I fell in love with the Market as a college student in the late 1970s, not long after it was saved from the wrecking ball of “urban removal.” Later, as a young lawyer working downtown, I ate my way through the Market several days a week. I’d start at the front entrance with a slice of pizza from DeLaurenti’s walk-up window, browsing the covers of the magazines at the First & Pike Newsstand— eyes only until my hands were clean! I’d sip a sample cup of tea at Market Spice while watching the fishmongers throw salmon and amuse the crowd with their comedy routine, pick my produce and cheese for the week, and end with dessert—a hazelnut sable from Le Panier, the French bakery, or a Nanaimo bar from a now-departed shop in the warren off Post Alley.

A few years ago, Mr. Right and I spent a month in France. We loved everything about it, including the markets, small, medium, and large. Our first was in Arles, a city with Roman roots and medieval history, once home to Van Gogh and Cezanne. At the Arles Wednesday market, you can buy everything from herbs and spices to sausages to sunglasses and goats.

The next Sunday, we found ourselves in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a magical town. Once again, produce, cheese, and sausage were king, but here too were tables of antique monogrammed linens, silver cutlery, and other French treasures. Accordian music. Duck sausage. (We ate a lot of duck in France. We fed a lot of ducks, too, to make up for it.) Ravioli made before our eyes. The produce seller who asked when we intended to eat the cantaloup—and rejected three before finding one he promised would be ripe the next day. And he was right, bien sûr
Roussillon is not a historic market town, but no matter: the butcher, baker, cheesemonger, and a few produce sellers crammed into the village’s single parking lot on Saturday morning, beside a beekeeper, a soap maker, and handful of artists. Best macarons of the trip.

Back in Paris, the Sunday Market on Boulevard Richard Lenoir, directly behind our hotel, left us speechless. Food lovers’ heaven. Vats of olives, baskets of mushrooms we couldn’t identify, bread so beautiful it made our eyes water. We wandered the blocks, eavesdropping on the Parisians as they filled their baskets and rolling carts for the next few days, and bought a picnic for our last evening on the banks of the Seine.

Markets are inherently festive. They fire up our senses and spark our imaginations. They make us hungry—and offer us everything from fresh-roasted peanuts to fresh-baked piroshky. And they bring us back, again and again, to see what’s old and new.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: What about you, Readers? Do you have a favorite farmers’ market or a memory of one? Leslie is giving a copy of ASSAULT AND PEPPER and a bag of Market Spice Tea from Seattle to one lucky reader!

The first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction, Leslie Budewitz lives in NW Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their Burmese cat, a book cover model and avid birdwatcher. For more tales of life in the Great Northwest, visit her website.


  1. We often have small farmers' markets during the summer months; the fresh fruits and vegetables are wonderful. The Pike Place Market sounds absolutely amazing.
    Leslie, I am looking forward to reading "Assault and Pepper."

  2. What wonderful tales of farmers' markets, Leslie! And I can't wait to read the new book.

    I've been to Pike Place Market several times and loved it. We lived in Grenoble for six months, just two blocks from the market. Oh, my, the cheeses, the produce, the meats. And we discovered the wine store around the corner where you brought in your empty bottle and they filled it from the barrel!

    I used to be a farmer, of course, and sold at a local market for a couple of years. The first year it seemed like everybody else was giving out samples - bread, fruit, and so on - but it was early in the New England season and I didn't know what I could offer. It was also when nobody knew what arugula was, so I started offering arugula samples! A big hit.

    Now I go to the Newburyport Sunday morning market - live music, fresh salsa, local cheeses, artisan breads several organic growers, and one farmer who brings chickens or pigs in a cage for the entertainment value!

    And of course my fictional farmer sells at market in the summer, too!

  3. Oh, I love the Pike Place Market. What a sight, really all of it. We lived in Portland for a few years and made it to Seattle a few times. Here in Central Texas, the farmers markets operate year round. And they are lovely. One weekly market is in my church parking lot on Thursday afternoons.

    My best memory of a market was one in New Orleans. We had left our little girl with my folks while we took a little weekend away. My mother called to say that our daughter had broken her sweet porcelain doll - well, the doll's face anyway. Mom was trying to figure out how to comfort our girl. I told her we'd try to bring a replacement from New Orleans. We wandered this market and lo and behold there she was - the new doll, which was eventually named Anna Marie. I think the daughter, at age 32, still has Anna Marie. Probably my best market find! LOL

  4. Leslie, hi from London! A good place for markets, but hard to pick the best. Borough Market, maybe...

    I've loved any farmer's market since I was a child. My grandmother loved to go to the Sunday farmer's market in downtown Dallas, and I couldn't imagine a bigger treat. Of course it's much more upscale now, but thank goodness it hasn't fallen victim to "urban removal...

    Can't wait to read the new book!

  5. The saddest day of the year is when the farmer's market closes in Connecticut. Key West is finally getting the hang of a weekly market--with local honey, lots of yummy cooked food, cheese, olives, bread, the works!

    Last week we tried the best-ever shrimp and sausage gumbo...

    Congrats on the new series Leslie!

  6. Been to Pike place just once... we found it fun and impressive. We shop at our local (Durham) outdoor farmer's market almost every Saturday that we're in town, then make menus based on what we found. Having grown up very urban, it's been educational to learn what fruits and veggies are really available fresh when!


  7. Leslies, I am looking forward to your new book!

    Your post today has my mouth watering for good, healthy food! It embarrasses me to say that despite the fact that I love the idea of a farmers market, and that there are two of them in my town every year, I've only been to one, and that was in the town where my brother lives.

    This year I'll try to make it a point to get to the local ones at least a couple of times.

  8. Gorgeous photos! ( And such fabulous color. In Boston right now, the landscape is snowy white.) We have a Farmer's Market in our town, too…it's always hilarious to see how many zucchini there are!

    Boston is allegedly creating a new one--it's supposed to be open this summer! Wait--what's summer?

    Congratulations, Leslie! xxxo

  9. It's not really a "farmer's market," but I like going to the Strip District in Pittsburgh. It's near where the trains used to offload all the fresh produce. Lots of ethnic vendors (Indian, Asian, Greek, Spanish), fresh produce, locally-roasted coffee, bakeries, cheese, gourmet chocolates. But parking is a mess and it's a lot of walking (not my forte any longer), so I don't go often.

    We have a backyard garden for fresh produce in the spring/summer, but I've always intended to stop at the local farmer's market. Too bad it closes before I get home from work, though.

  10. There was a little farmers market often held is a little town just east of us. After it disappeared four or five years ago, an indoor market appeared that was less food and produce and more spices and herbs, candles, candy, soaps, purses and little kitchy gifts. Alas, it too closed last year. I miss being able to shop where there is lots of variety and homemade/handmade goods. I'd love to read that "spicy" mystery too.

  11. Welcome, Leslie! All of the great comments have reminded me we have a smaller, Wednesday farmers market in the neighborhood. I may have to go check it out this afternoon!

  12. I DO love my local farmer's market, though right now it's a huge mound of snow. Actually we're surrounded by them. And my local fish monger shows up, too, and a woman whose husband pulls lobsters out of the ocean in front of their house.

    And when we travel I'm always thrilled to find a farmer's market. Anyone else remember the LEGENDARY one in Madison outside the Bouchercon hotel? I brought back the most amazing blue cheeses (in TSA had to pass the sniff test.)

    Leslie, the series sounds delightful!

  13. We are exceptionally lucky here is New Hampshire. In the summer there are farmers' markets every day of the week! The biggest challenge is deciding where we want to shop that day. We also have multiple winter markets on the weekends - many of them held in local greenhouses, so we usually come home with lunch, dinner, plants, seeds, veggies, fresh fish, and apples!

  14. open from late spring to Christmas this place is great, low prices, and fresh produce. Christmas trees.

  15. You have excellent taste --- to invite Leslie !!! She will be my honored guest too - Sunday, March 8... Crime Writer's Chronicle... I hope to see all my dear Jungle Red friends rally round and salute this wonderful Leslie with us on CWC! Thelma Straw, devoted to Leslie and her talents and cat

  16. When I visited the Pike Place Market for the first time, it was a weekday morning. I strolled through and being hungry for breakfast, popped into this "diner" for a bite. I sat at a window table with a stunningly clear view of the harbor - yet I kept looking around. Not only was the place "old" with so much wood finishing and creaky floors but, it kept reminding me of someplace. Then on the way out I saw the sign and adjoining photo declaring it was THE diner Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner ate during for their scene in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.

  17. Oh, such wonderful stories you're all sharing -- many thanks to all of you, and to Susan for inviting me!

    I envy those of you in more temperate climes, and my characters in Seattle, with year-round access to markets.

    Edith, you're right -- they're as much about the entertainment value as the food, aren't they? They're about COMMUNITY -- which makes them perfect for a cozy, urban or rural.

    No live animals at Pike Place, though, except the shop dogs!

  18. Yes, to farmers' markets, of any stripe, and wherever they are. Pike Place Market is fabulous. I bought some blackberry balsamic vinegar there that I'm still hoarding the last little bit of--it's fabulous on ice cream. No, really.

    Boulder, Colorado has one of the best, with food trucks and entertainment, and it's pretty much year-round. All those wonderful organic farms near there, you know.

    One of the best I've been to is the two-story permanent market in Florence, Italy, Mercato Centrale, part of the San Lorenzo market near Santa Maria Novella. Fabulous, with marble counters and just about everything you can dream of. Meats on one floor, and produce on the other.

    But we are lucky here in Cincinnati. Not only do we have several neighborhood farmers' markets (including the best, in Hyde Park Square, on Sundays year round), but we also have the oldest continuous indoor/outdoor market in Ohio, Findlay Market, which is close to downtown.

  19. Kay, love that you found Anna Maria at the market -- what joy you all must have felt to be able to give her to your daughter when you got home!

    Deb, the story of saving the Pike Place Market's is truly inspiring. Grass roots and hard work. Victor Steinbreuck's Market Sketchbook sealed the deal. Enjoy your time in London!

    Lucy, I'm surprised that Key West is just getting a market going. So many wonderful possibilities there!

  20. Jim, yes -- cooking from what you find fresh takes some focus and imagination, but it's so much fun, and tasty! Glad you've discovered the joy!

    Deb, I know what you mean -- inertia -- let's make a JR vow to get to the summer markets more often.

    Ah, but Hank, does the Boston Market have a zucchini look-alike contest? I remember one at the Crow Fair on the Reservation. The winning veg looked like Richard Nixon.

  21. Mary, those ethnic touches are wonderful, aren't they? Love the history of the location near the RR depot.

    Susanne, fingers crossed for a new market near you!

    Oh, Hallie. The lobsters. Love the TSA story! (French TSA took my lemon curd. I bet they ate it.)

  22. Trudi, how lucky you are to have a winter market!

    Pauline, what a find! Lots of Christmas trees farms near my home in NW MT -- hard work, but fun to be part of so many families' celebrations.

    Thanks, Thelma! No cat this time, but oh, what a dog!

  23. Noel, I can see you looking around and making the connection! That was Lowell's -- great views, fun atmosphere, and the motto? "Almost Classy."

    Karen, Florence? I'm drooling!

  24. Shout out to the Reading Terminal Market in Philly! And the Broadway Market in Buffalo NY, where you can get your fill of German and Polish delicacies. I look forward to reading your book, Leslie.

  25. We only have markets during the warm months here in northern Minnesota so they are even more special during those months. I can hardly wait for May to arrive so that I can buy some homemade bread---the vegetables will come a little latter. The best ones locally are in Nisswa and Brainerd.

  26. I've gone to a couple of farmer's markets, but I don't think I've bought anything. It's not something I do on a regular basis.

  27. Kansas City has a great farmer's market--but my favorites are the smaller ones. We had a great year-round one locally--of course great produce and fruits--but also fudge, jams, jellies. Summertime, there are the family farm stands--you never know what you'll find at those!

  28. Assault and Pepper! This title has to go in my favorite folder. This series sounds so sensory appealing as well as story charm. I am in awe of people who have an intense familiarity with spices, knowing just what a dish needs or what you should add to achieve a certain taste. My son-in-law makes a few of his own spices, which really impresses me. I think I need to read your new series for information as well as entertainment.

    Oh, and your description of the market at Arles where Van Gogh and Cezanne walked the streets was wonderful. They even had goats? I'm a big fan of Van Gogh and goats, so that would have been quite the treat. The rest of the markets' descriptions also left me longing to explore them.

    We have a summer farmers' market here, which is lovely with all its fruits and vegetables and flowers and baked goods and candles and such. I need to make more of an effort to visit it each Saturday that it's open this year.

    Thanks for a great post, Leslie! I enjoyed reading about all the other farmers' markets from everyone else, too. And, Debs, I thought you favored the Portobello Road Market? It's a place I want to visit from reading your books, Debs.

  29. Thanks, Jen. Love those regional flavors.

    Sue, I can practically smell the fresh bread!

    Mark, I hope we're inspiring you to stop next time you see one!

    FChurch, you've got that market spirit of discovery!

  30. Leslie, hi! Can't wait to dig into Assault and Pepper (arrived yesterday!).

    I love markets. They're so photogenic. I always bring my camera along and takes tons of pictures.

  31. I love a farmers market & go to more than a few

  32. Your new series sounds like a lot of fun. Here in Houston we have weekly farmers markets in several locations: mostly organic fruits and veggies, meat, honey, etc. Also music, coffee, prepared foods, fish and shrimp. You name it! Get out of town on the weekends you'll find pickup trucks on the sides of the roads with pecans, watermelons, whatever is in season. Love it!

  33. I went to college in central Pa. We had a farmer's market that was full of wonderful Amish foods. I always started out by getting a snitz pie (hand-help pie filled with dried apples cooked to almost apple butter consistency) to help give me strength to walk around enjoying all the offerings.

  34. HI Leslie!

    There is one big farmer's market near where I am and several smaller ones. My favorites are an hour or so north, in Pennsylvania Dutch country. There's one between Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand that's great, but I never go in summer because it's swarming with tourists. It's worth the trip for the fresh produce, but also for fresh herbs, spices, and pies.

    Looking forward to reading Assault and Pepper!

  35. The farmers market here is small. There's a bigger one in the middle of the city, but I prefer the small one with local friendly people that I've bought from for years.

  36. Leslie, Google the San Lorenzo market; it's such a beautiful place.

    Your descriptions of the French markets reminded me of how exquisitely even tiny vegetable stands in Paris displayed their produce. The vegetables looked like precious jewels, and still can make me salivate just thinking of them.

  37. Thanks, Kathy -- it's the perfect title! The city of Arles has a do-it-yourself walking tour of sites Van Gogh painted, with little brass plaques shaped like easels leading the way, then a sign showing the painting. Very cool.

    Thanks, Lisa, Amary, and Pat -- fresh pecans! Oh, my!

    Libby, yes! You can walk around eating and no one minds -- they encourage it!

    (Captcha just asked me to identify which images were cake. The food theme continues!)

  38. Ramona, "between Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand" -- how could we not want to go there?!

    Sue, that community aspect is a big part of the draw, isn't it?

    Karen, yes! And of course, you never touch the produce, unless you're told you can.

  39. I don't go but I do remember back in the 40s when a man came around in his horse drawn wagon selling vegetables! This was in Morgan Park, MN during the war.

  40. I'm going to love Assault and Pepper. I lived in Seattle about 60 years ago (before they started throwing salmon around). But we've been there since, and actually bought a salmon there. Now my local farm market is in Amish country, where my husband's uncles used to have a meat stand on market.

  41. Love farmers' markets. Due to the success of the summer ones, there are now winter farmers' markets too. Love all the fresh produce, fish, eggs, cheeses and other goodies available.

  42. Karen, my dad grew up in St. Paul and he had similar memories. Such a wonderful image!

    Norma, I do hope you love the trip back, on the page! Such a wonderful city.

    MaryC, around here, a winter market could only sell ice and those Christmas trees Pat mentioned! But at least I can write about markets all year round!

  43. Well, I'm going to have to repeat what the other Karen in Ohio said. We have numerous markets in the Cincinnati, Northern KY area. Findley Market has been in existence forever, and the Hyde Park Sunday market is really good. I also like the one out next to Lunken Airport.

  44. Karen Alsip, I live about four miles from that market at Lunken!

  45. Karen, meet Karen -- and go to the Market together!

  46. Lived in Seattle in the 50s and 60s. Pike Place Market more exciting then! Many more farmers' stands as well as butchers, fish stalls, etc. Now there are too many tourist gewgaws for sale - but I still like the traditional bits. Have a great book with a collection of Mark Tobey's pictures of the old market.

  47. Phyllis, the proliferation of markets in other areas of the city have taken their toll; fewer people do their regular shopping at the Market, like I did. The Market has responded in part by setting up daily markets in other areas of downtown -- Pioneer Square, Westlake, South Lake Union. It's constantly evolving.

    I've seen that book of Tobey sketches -- fabulous. Victor Steinbrueck's sketchbook is great, too.

  48. My favorite farmers market was in San Luis Obispo,CA. This book series sounds good.

  49. I enjoy a good farmers market but I get overwhelmed by the really huge ones. Pike Place is almost to much to take in as a visitor to Seattle. I like my little local farmers market, you get to know the people and it's my social outing for the day, sometimes week.

  50. OOh, Helen, with its prime location, I bet the markets in SLO are wonderful! And Lisa, yes, Pike Place can be a bit much -- that's why I developed my routines when I live there, and now why I plan a day to get lost in the nooks and crannies. It's constantly changing!

    Thank you all, and Susan and the Reds for having me. It's ALWAYS thyme for a good mystery!

  51. This sounds like a great book - and Pike Place, with the Starbucks...would love to see it someday. My mother and I would sometimes go to the farmer's market in my hometown in Michigan. It was interesting and fun - so much better than buying things in the grocery store (with the exception of Sprouts, of course!)