After being a student here for three years, I’ve realized that I have never really experienced the city of Rochester. I had some cool opportunities over the course of my summer here, but one class, Imagining Rochester, has exposed me to a lot of the culture and art that surrounds this intriguing city. One of my favorite things about my classes with the professor, Jessica Liebermann, is the challenge to actually learn something by yourself. It’s one thing to be taught by a professor, but in my experience it is something greater to learn it by yourself.
Exploring the city on your own is all about finding what makes Rochester. You are challenged to discover what it has to offer, and it certainly opens up your eyes to the possibilities. Now, there are numerous ways to do this without the class: Pre-Orientation Events that bring you around the city, other courses that utilize this pedagogy (a really good SAT word), and just roaming the city yourself. But this class is so unique and interesting that you shouldn’t pass up the chance to take it.
Now, forewarning, by me writing this blog about the Public Market, I’m essentially breaking one of the main philosophies of this class: experiences should be had without prior exposure, so that they preserve that “new” aspect. So, if you don’t want me to ruin this experience, feel free to stop reading, but I thought it would be interesting to share my own experience of the Market and the many more places to come.
My adventure to the Rochester Public Market started with a grey September morning. It was borderline drizzling and definitely not a way I wanted to spend a Saturday morning. Driving through the city, I ended up at the “pearly gates” of the Public Market.
Now, I don’t know about you, but my experience with farmer’s markets were just some small booths set up in a parking lot with a few goods to sell. This was definitely not the average farmer’s market for me. Imagine a campus quad and then fill it with stands of people selling different produce and goods. There is so much to be sold, and the best part is that all the food they have is extremely cheap and local.
I was so in awe of the spectacle that I didn’t even buy anything for the first hour. I walked around and experienced everything that was around me. I made it a point to not even take a picture, until I had at least seen everything there was to see. There were cool little food stops, farmers with fresh produce, bakeries, butchers, and seafood.
I heard a little tip from a professor I ran into that the empanadas at the market were amazing. Obviously, I had to have a taste of it myself, especially since I hadn’t eaten breakfast at all. The empanada shop was a quaint little stand in the corner of the market, with a sea of people waiting to pick up an empanada. There was one option that was essentially breakfast in an empanada, which was pretty tasty. If you ever get a chance, check out Juan and Maria’s Empanadas, because they are delicious.
On the other edge of the market was the Union Street Bakery and Pizza, where you could smell the bread baking, from each corner of the market. For a bakery, it had a lot of space inside, although there was a big line of people that wrapped all the way around it. After buying a loaf of bread, I could see why it was so popular. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to grab a slice of pizza (those empanadas were just so filling).
Walking around the stands, it was really hard for me to not buy every single piece of produce there. For one thing, I love supporting anything local. It’s just people supporting people, no middle man in between. And the prices that they had just couldn’t be beat, especially for all the food that you could buy. For two pounds of pears, I spent one dollar, which would probably cost me six at a grocery store. Other stands had assortments of grapes, potatoes, squash, apples, and pumpkins (it is fall after all). As a college kid strapped for money, it was a gold mine of quality food for prices that incredibly affordable.
The best part of that whole experience? The fact that it is only a small portion of what Rochester has to offer. A Public Market bustling with people buying and selling food is simply the beginning of my adventures in the city. Over the course of the rest of this class, I’ll experience more of the inner workings of the city, the culture in the streets, the art scene, and even what’s underneath the city; hopefully, you’ll share in this journey as well. Next stop: Mount Hope Cemetery.