Union Square: More Than a Market

These days at the Union Square market the watercress is not the only thing that is wild.   Used to be that the market was the most interesting thing happening in Unions square.  Then a couple of years ago artists started setting up stalls making the entire square chalk full of venders selling everything from T-shirts to paintings.  This year that has changed, the artists have been supplanted by some of the Occupy people.  With the Occupy folks have come others to join in the “happening” that is Union Square these days…

The Hare Krishna have been giving out copies of the Bhagavad Gita and chatting with people about their spiritual beliefs for many summers, usually one or two, so I was surprised to see such a large group of them it reminded me of Tompkins Square Park in the 80’s before Koch had it closed and bulldozed.

The Hare Krishna had a big presence there, along with junkies, chess players, drag queens and kids playing basketball.   It surprises me how similar Union Square is becoming to the old Tompkins Square.

It’s not just a place to come for the market, though on market days I think that is the reason most people come, especially now when every day brings a new delight, this week it’s sugar snap peas.  Last week it was strawberries.

It’s hard to keep track the season is so early and odd, we had strawberries before we had Fiddleheads.I asked a woman who was buying stinging nettles the other day what she did with them. She turned on me like I was robbing her and looked directly into my eyes, and with what I am guessing was a Polish accent she said:  “I cook them

Of course Union Square was renovated recently and is much more gentrified then Tompkins Square was back in the day, hell that was the reason that wanted all the counter-culture out of the park so they could renovate it so it could become a park about young parents, strollers and dog runs.  It’s just worth noting that no matter how nice the park or how ritzy the neighborhood and no matter how hard the powers that be might try, the counter-culture always find their way back to the garden, er well in this case, park.

Funny how much time has passed since this last picture was taken (1988) but how little has changed:

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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