My sister Betty is a Realtor, who I know is working hard to stoke her bank account before the slower holiday months set in, so I was not sure if she would accept an invitation to accompany me across the river. But I mentioned Reading Terminal, she was in, and we were off!
There are almost 80 food vendors inside the terminal and there is absolutely nothing you can't find. Every culture is represented and every stand is packed. Take a look at just a sample of what this grand market has to offer. Step inside with me!
What I love most about the terminal is that everyone standing in line with you is so willing to share what they are going to do with their purchases. A lovely black woman was standing next to us at one of the many butcher stands. Her daughter was coming home from school for the weekend and requested ox tails for dinner. Betty asked her how she cooked them, and from what she described it was very similar to the Italian dish of Osso Buco. This place is a virtual melting pot of culinary visions.
As I was scoping out a place to eat lunch, a couple approached me. "We're from Kansas and it's our first time here. Where should we eat?" What? Where should they eat?
"You are standing next to Hershel's East Side Deli, which has the best pastrami sandwich in the city. Across the isle is Dinic's amazing roast pork and beef sandwiches. Behind you is Salumari's which has a great Italian hoagie. And, across the seating area is Spataro's where you can get an authentic Philly cheese steak" There are healthy options too, but you're in the Reading Terminal so...why? "The best advice I can give you is to find the longest line and get in it! Locals know what they like, and they'll wait for it!"
Or they can order an olive hoagie! New Orleans may have Muffalattas, this is better!
Iovine's Produce is one of the market's oldest produce stands. Although there are many more, this vegetable veteran stand get's my money ever time I go.
My grandmother made the best meatballs. She only used a mixture of beef, veal and pork. It is really hard to find now in supermarkets. But not at the Terminal. I am hosting a dinner next Saturday. Since meatballs and sausage are on the menu, this trip was needed!
This vendor takes his olive oil seriously...it's under lock and key!
You can't go into Philly and not stop at Le Bus or the Metropolitan Bakery for bread!
These "personal" size baguettes provided both Betty and I with...
Dinner! Ah! Martin's Italian Sausage with...
...a fabulous tomato salad. This Amish farmer directed us to his best tomatoes and corn!
And of course a stop for some great chocolates for may fall candy dishes! And my guests!
Most famous for their Cannoil's, Betty had to stop at Termini Bros. for a cheese cake topped with cinnamon! So good!
I love this market! I love the smell, the sounds, the feel of it. But I think most, I love the people in it. Everyone is there to find their cooking treasures. The scents and taste of what makes our homes a place where family and friends want to be. They are always willing to share their culture, their recipes, as am I.
The Reading Terminal is over 100 years old. And that may be the very best part. A walk through the doors is like stepping back in time. Nothing frozen or packaged, just fresh meats, breads and vegetables. What you want, they way you want it. Can't get any better!
Photos by Jo Ann Phelps