Making Groceries, Making Friends

The title of this blog post is based on an old New Orleans expression, “making groceries,” which is another way of saying grocery shopping. I’m starting to see how, at the market, people make friends while they make groceries. Just another way that the market facilitates those connections and on a bigger scale, a sense of community.

Today was my first full day at the market, and I loved it. I got there at 7am to help set everything up— which includes putting up tents, tables, and informational displays, as well as getting coffee, tea, and water ready to sell. I spent most of the morning under the welcome tent, answering questions for shoppers and selling beverages to people.

Crescent City Farmers Market uses a wooden token system so that people without cash can buy produce easily. Food stamps can be exchanged for tokens, and the tokens can be bought with credit or debit cards. Eventually I’ll learn how to sell the tokens to the shoppers, but for today a member of the market staff took care of it while Tatiana and I sold drinks.

The two of us also spent a couple of hours going through orientation in the office, mostly learning about the market and how it works.

I snacked throughout the day instead of eating a real lunch. I dipped homemade tortilla chips from one vendor in a red lentil dip from another, and also ate a whole tomato that a vendor gave me. I also bought homemade cinnamon raisin bread from a really nice woman who invited Tatiana and me to visit her bakery in Baton Rouge! I really hope that works out because I think it would be a lot of fun.

At the end of the market, the woman who I bought the lentil dip from came over to the welcome tent and gave Tatiana and me each a container of hummus! I joked that it was because I had earned her favor with the evil eye bracelet my Turkish friend gave me for good luck, since the vendor and I had shared a conversation about it (she was Turkish too). But the gift obviously stemmed from her generosity— something that seems abundant at this market.

After work, I came straight home and took a power nap. Standing in the sun being enthusiastically nice to people really drains you. Krissi woke me up when she got back from her job at Audubon Zoo, and the two of us joined her friend Katherine with a couple of other New Orleans kids our age to swim at another guy’s pool. That was really fun, but then it started raining so we went and got Snowballs. Later, Katherine, Katie, Krissi, and I went out to dinner at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Co, where I tried their famous thin fried catfish. Then we went out to a couple of local bars, which was fun because a lot of places here are 18+ and it’s really easy to meet people. It’s looking like this summer is going to bring a lot of new friendships, not just at the market where I work or in the house where I live, but outside all of that as well!