In the city of Lancaster, there is an aged building hiding the oldest continually operating farmer’s market in the country, and a family of cultures who come together every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday to sell their crafts and fresh produce. This place is called Central Market. Housed in a structure with the name built right into the brick, this market has seen over three hundred years go by, as well as many merchants from Lancaster, the greater state of Pennsylvania, the United States, and the world.
Central Market is surrounded by buildings that are updated and, clearly, of a more modern design, but its charm still captivates all those who enter. People from old to young, from many different ethnicities, and from all different backgrounds, everyone is welcome. Students at the nearby universities are encouraged to use the market to grasp a perspective of a world bigger than they, and to eat food they might not have tried elsewhere. Unfortunately, that pursuit of culture and perspective are lost many times next to homework and upcoming exams.
In this market, you can buy Middle Eastern food from a stand run by a woman from Jordan, who will even tell you how to eat the food just right. Go back a few rows and you can purchase escargot from a fisherman or fresh, ripe apples from a woman and her children. Throughout the market you can choose from Spanish, Thai, and Dutch foods as well. You can taste creamy fudge, homemade ice cream, and the smoothest chocolate milk you have ever had. All around you, a family of shoppers swarms to buy a delectable molasses cupcake or a melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookie.
There are also the craft stands and venders, who sell everything from sports team oriented cooking aprons to soy candles made in recyclable containers. These merchants are not there to sell you a product; they want you to buy it because it will help you, because you have not experienced anything like it before. They let you taste without buying, just so you will come back next week. A stand featuring herbs, spices, coffees, teas, jams and pastas will allow you to buy in any increment, so you can make that recipe and “waste not.”
So maybe, as a student at Millersville University, you came to college for a degree, and do not have time for anything outside the limits of Millersville. Maybe you want to experience the world, but finances prevent you from traveling spontaneously. This market, with its mix of cultures, aromas, and life, is worth it.
Come with $10 in your pocket and sample new tastes, or buy some food and then head out to the fountain across the street to enjoy a beautiful day. Central Market has prospered for three centuries for a reason, and until you go there, you just will not understand. Open from 6 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tuesdays and Fridays, 6 A.M. to 2 P.M. Saturdays, year-round.