Out on the road to find inspiring, less-well-known nabes devoted to the fresh, the local, the sustainable—and the drinkable. Produced by Cindy Hatcher
East: Philadelphia's Italian Market
Philadelphia is a town that grew up around its terminal markets, hemmed in on all sides by water and farmland. It has food history the way a big old tree has roots, sunk deep into the past and forming its present. Today's food revolution is built on those roots, make no mistake.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the blocks surrounding the Italian Market—the oldest outdoor market in the United States, unchanged in so many ways from the moment of its founding that walking the pavement in front of its clustered stalls feels a little like time travel.
There are butchers here who can trace their lineage back through generations (and will at the drop of a hat), fish merchants and cheesemongers, bakeries that flour the air, poultry shops, and more than 40 produce vendors who stack their Jersey tomatoes and greens in piles under sagging awnings and keep their stock of Italian truffles under glass like diamonds.
Thirteenth Street might be hotter, Fishtown hipper, Reading Terminal more packed with swells, but the Italian Market is where Philly grew up. Go there to see glimpses of America's melting-pot cuisine in the first blush of its youth. —Jason Sheehan