I jumped from my seat when the recorded voice on the Metro said to get out at the Pershing Square stop for a visit to Grand Central Market. For some reason, I was going to make it till Union Station.
The rain sprinkled my camera lens during the short walk from the station to the market. I wiped the lens with my shirt before entering the place that has been “feeding Los Angeles” since 1917.
First impressions were positive. While walking thru the wide aisles, the piles of fruits and vegetables caught my eye. Vendor were shouting, “Pase y pruebe las carnitas mas deliciosas.” (Enter and try the most delicious carnitas). My mouth watered while observing the many seafood salads in one stall. I felt like the shining peaches, strawberries and kiwis over a tart, in a pastry shop, were calling my name. The smell of slightly charred kabobs hit me at one of the aisles. Grounded spices contained in cubic compartments added to the amalgam of sights, sounds and smells.
I would say this place lies in the middle of my tastes. It is located on a thin line dividing right from wrong. This is a positive appreciation of a market in a city which has disappointed me over and over again on that area.
What is right? The gloomy feeling given by the low lights. The lively vendors. The decent variety of fresh produce. The tons of Latin products sold in many stalls. A nice selection of places to eat. The shadiness and grittiness of some of those places where food is offered. Food served in plastic plates. The opportunity to eat on a counter (which I think is very cool). The antique register used at China Café. The strange stuff sold in adjacent stores (magic fungus from Michoacan anyone?). Nonsense pig statues. An Asian guy named Jose.
What is wrong? The lack of chaos (maybe because I went after lunch time). Everything is neatly organized. I was expecting more offerings. Closed stalls. Food lacking flavor (at least some I tried). Tight regulations. In summary, it was missing the fair or celebratory atmosphere I love from some markets.
Well, I am not losing hope. Maybe one day I will find the market of my dreams in Los Angeles.
What kind of market do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments section below.