By Drew Solyst
Originally published Fall 2012.
In an interview with literary wunderkind Jonah Lehrer, Bob Dylan divulged the inspiration for his 1965 song “Like a Rolling Stone”, saying: “It’s a hard thing to describe. It’s just this sense that you got something to say. Like have you been to the DeKalb Farmer’s Market? That place is the cat’s pajamas man.” It’s hard to argue with the genius of Bob Dylan or a cat wearing pajamas, so it stands to reason that Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market is the superior distributor of delicious foodstuffs. However, I recognize that some people may not appreciate Bob’s brand of singing or cats in sleeping attire, so I’ll present just a few reasons why you should go to Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market instead of someone else’s more traditional supermarket.
I think that everyone who has visited can agree that Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market is like no other market. You know you’re in for something different when you drive past their landscaped message telling you in planted flowers that your destination is “Bringing The World of People and Food Together”. At the door to the unassuming building, you’re comforted that their signage insists that you simply cannot bring your firearm into the store (not even your derringer!). It’s a small, but fair price for admission.
As if stepping into a giant refrigerator (literally and metaphorically), you’re faced with endless rows of fresh produce from all over the world dominating an enormous open warehouse. There is no soft mood music, no faux-antique signs with foreign language, no elaborate displays, just the bright lights overhead shining squarely on the food and a sea of people. It spotlights a microcosm of Atlanta, a diverse group of individuals and food that have been brought together from everywhere but Atlanta.
This is why when people ask me what I like about Atlanta; I invariably talk about the Farmer’s Market. It’s gotten so predictable that people have even made wagers about how quickly I will mention it. But what am I supposed to talk about? The World of Coke Museum? The Georgia Aquarium? Last time I checked, people eat food like every day and particularly enjoy eating food that tastes really good.
Oh and did I mention that it’s cheap? Loose leaf mango black tea for $.05/tsp, chipotle pepper powder for $.08/tsp, 3 chocolate croissants for $4 and salsa verde for $.07/tbsp, all of which are prepared fresh from their ingredients at the Market every day. Among the produce you can find many items that are very difficult to obtain fresh, like kaffir lime leaf, longan fruit, galangal, dragonfruit and Thai bananas. On one side of the building you’ll find a vast selection of wines from all over the world, and on the other sprawling counters serving up live lobsters and crabs, tuna, grass-fed beef, bison, and air-chilled, organic chicken.
On Sundays, The Cheese Lady hands out free toothpicks to sample the fantastic cheese selection, where you may find yourself lingering happily for quite some time while you listen to her words of wisdom. If during your cheesy trance you smell the unmistakable scent of barbecue wings, politely excuse yourself from The Cheese Lady and her bounty and proceed directly to the Market’s own hot bar. For $5 you can get a plate filled to the brim with sautéed kale, cauliflower casserole, fried plantain, spicy Szechuan eggplant, vegetarian lasagna, sherry chicken, and if you’re feeling like a baller a samosa for an extra $1.50 (don’t forget the sauce). It’s cash only so make sure you have enough before you get in line or they’ll make you work off the difference in their organic sea salt mines. If you don’t believe me check out the elevator shaft right there next to the register. Where do you think that goes?
When you get to the register you realize why you will definitely be coming back: The numbers looking at you feel oddly friendly. It’s actually cheaper to eat better food from the DeKalb Farmer’s market than the Publix equivalent. To demonstrate, here is a recipe for my grilled chipotle-lime chicken tacos topped with a roasted corn and black bean salsa, monteray jack cheese and chipotle salsa or guacamole. Did I mention that there are chips? The ingredients cost $2 per taco at YDFM and $3 per taco for the Publix approximation ($31.18 and $46.70 for all ingredients to make ~16 tacos, and extra guac, salsa and chips, respectively). Only the tortillas and chips were bought outside of YDFM.