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Where Y’Eat: A Street Food Feast at the Farmers Market

People shop
Ian McNulty
People shop at the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans.

Visiting a farmers market can be a habitual matter, though for me it was a habit that fell away in the past few years.

So it was with fresh eyes that I recently took a spin around the Sunday morning version of the Crescent City Farmers Market, which sets up weekly in City Park between the oaks and cypress. And this has reengaged the habit for me.

This Sunday version is one of three such markets held weekly around the city, and this one revealed a newly vibrant array of street food too.

I suspect I shop for groceries a little differently than the normal household, given my professional pursuit of New Orleans restaurants. But I’ve come to appreciate a social aspect to farmers markets that I value as much as the shopping. Being outdoors, in a setting as beautiful as City Park, sets a restorative, enjoyable tone to stroll around with other people, get a quick meal and explore.

A big part of that is how the market has lately become a venue for pop-ups, the ones normally found a bars and breweries, now out for a Sunday morning shift.

That's a change for the market through the pandemic ,and aligns with a goal of supporting new and small businesses. The upshot is there’s much more grab-and-go food on hand at the market now.

A lap around the stands saw pupusas oozing cheese on the griddle, breakfast tacos being folded over and paella cooking in pans the size of coffee tables. One booth was like its own miniature Asian food festival with banh mi and dumplings and such, and another was like a diner with both donuts and sliders.

There were multiple mobile juice bars and coffee bars, and different bakeries for bread, bagels and cookies.

A walk around the market today gives a swirling portrait of New Orleans life, from hipsters to oldsters, some with dogs on leashes or with kids on a romp, some pushing strollers or wagons or bicycles.

Everything is on a small scale, except the boost of uplift and optimism I felt after visiting. I walked past the mosaic of oaks with my second iced coffee of the morning, a full belly, a few things to eat at home and the certainty that I would return.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.