Friday, May 20, 2011

Reading Terminal Market: 1 day, 29 meals

There I was staring at another plastic bag. Another stack of napkins. Another bite I needed to take. For the first time, it seemed as if my eyes were actually smaller than my stomach.

I had 28 of Reading Terminal Market’s famed food merchants under my belt, and just one last one left. The sight of another sandwich and the thought of sinking my teeth into one final tasting was daunting, but somehow my stomach was actually screaming, “That looks amazing, I have room! Promise!” I shut my eyes and bit into the finish line, a chicken cheesesteak with provolone, and fried onions from Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks. Wow, what a way to end it.

That was number 29. In five and half hours I had successfully eaten 29 of Reading Terminal Market’s most desired foods from their beloved vendors, and I’m proud to say that I didn’t need to be rolled out in a wheelchair.

Mission Accomplished:
(***** = Star Rating out of 5)
1. Bassett’s Ice Cream: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (****)
2. Lancaster Country Dairy: Strawberry Lemonade (****)
3. Miller’s Twist: Soft Pretzel (****)
4. A.J. Pickle Patch & Salads: Kosher Dill Pickle (***)
5. Beiler’s Bakery: Apple Cider Donut (***)
6. Dienner’s Bar B-Q Chicken – Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Provolone/Mild Sauce (*****)
7. Dutch Eating Place – Apple Dumpling with Whipped Cream (*****)
8. Sweet As Fudge Candy Shoppe – Cookie Dough Fudge (***)
9. The Rib Stand – Ribs with Mild Sauce (**)
10. By George Pizza – Spinach, Tomato, and Ricotta Pizza (****)
11. Chocolate By Mueller – Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzel and Rock Candy (***)
12. Jonathan Best Gourmet Grocer – Diet Lemonade (****)
13. Kamal’s Middle Eastern Specialties – Falafel and Zatar Pizza (***)
14. Little Thai Market – Chicken Pad Thai (*)
15. 12th Street Cantina – Fish Taco with Guacamole (*****)
16. Beck’s Cajun Café – Gator Gumbo (**)
17. Carmen’s Famous – Chicken Cheesesteak (*****)
18. Delilah’s at the Terminal – Fried Chicken and Cornbread (****)
19. DiNic’s – Pork Sandwich with Broccoli Rabe (****)
20. Down Home Diner – Multigrain Pancakes with strawberry and pear salsa (*****)
21. Franks A-Lot – Beef Hot Dog with onions, relish, mustard, ketchup (*)
22. Golden Bowl – Vegetable Egg Roll (*)
23. Hershel’s – Brisket Sandwich with Provolone (****)
24. Olympic Gyro – Chicken Gyro (***)
25. Profi’s Creperie – Strawberry and Nutella Crepes (****)
26. The Original Turkey – Turkey Sandwich with Cranberry (***)
27. Famous 4th Street Cookie Co. – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie (****)
28. Flying Monkey Patisserie – Cookies and Cream Whoopie Pie (****)
29. Termini Brothers – Cannoli with Ricotta filling (*****)

It really was a crazy idea. When I planned it, I knew it was a feat not for the faint of stomach. But what is more satisfying than spending the day immersed in a world full of like-minded individuals? Food lovers. From the cashiers, to the patrons, to the individual in the kitchens responsible for making Reading Terminal Market a never-miss spot on any trip to Philadelphia, as soon as you step through one of the 10 doors and into the hustle bustle, you cannot help but love food.

For me, it is a love beyond those four letters. It is to the level of adoration and obsession. It kind of has to be if at any one moment that day I could’ve found myself seated at a table staring at fudge, an apple dumpling, and a pickle, all at the same time. Didn’t I say this wasn’t for the faint of stomach?

Truly, this experience made me realize much more than the fact that I am capable of eating a lot. As I drove up JFK Boulevard, with my best foodie friend in my passenger’s seat, our top buttons unbuttoned, and food babies in full bloom, I realized that the beauty of the day was in the opportunity to share in the culture of the market. Each vendor contributes a sight, a sound, and a smell, that coalesce into that which makes the RTM so wonderful. It is infectious. All one has to do is take a look at the people who work there. They have a pride about themselves that can put a smile on your face… like the Bassett’s ice cream scooper, our self-appointed cheerleader for the day, urging us on each time we passed him by, or Ethel at Delilah’s, filling our Styrofoam containers so full with food she was proud of that we were worried we would need to duct tape it shut.

Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love, and Reading Terminal Market is a representation of that. My city expressed love to me in 29 different ways that day, and it is an experience that will go unmatched. Go see for yourself just what kind of a memories one city block is capable of.

Read more at Aly's blog

1 comment:

  1. BEYOND amazing. I seriously have no words to express my awe with regard to your dedication!



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