punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Balticon 43: Things I forgot

Last year, lohquesse went to the Amish farmer's market nearby and despite several people saying I could go with them, 3 sets of trips completely forgot me. I was pretty pissed off. I forgot about this, but remembered it when she said she was going again.

So this time I went with her, moliarity, ninjacooter, and Scarlet. We got there around the time they were getting ready to close, because they have weird hours like Thursday-Saturday, 10-4 or something. The location is also a little weird: it's like a normal supermarket in a strip mall instead of ones I have been to before which are more open-air markets. They had sections where you paid per section as opposed to all at once near the exit. They had a bakery, candy maker, butcher shop, take-out, dine-in restaurant, crafts section, and a furniture section that made me whimper because things were sooooooooo well made and not that expensive.

The Amish were very friendly, even if standoffishly so. They kept to their affairs with mechanical precision and no eye contact until you got to the register and then they asked how you were, is this your first time, and so on. ninjacooter and I were making comments about the strange feel of the place while she twittered the experience, wondering if that was Kosher. I wondered if this punk-assed tattooed chick would make them uncomfortable, but they were just as friendly to her as she was to me, so I guess not. In fact, while they wore the traditional Amish garb, they did use electronic cash registers and credit card swipers. They also used more modern deep-fat friers, ovens, and so on. This supports a lot of what I read in Wikipedia, and less of what I heard by hearsay. The men all had trimmed beards in a certain style. Women and children were barefoot, except behind the counters, where most wore Crocs, of all things (some men wore leather shoes). I only saw Amish boys, no Amish children were girls, although they may have been around and I didn't look hard enough. Most of the boys were helping behind the scenes with a stern look of being deep into whatever they were working on, and didn't seem very kid-like at all. I know there's a controversy about child labor with the Amish kids, but all I could tell is they were working hard and focused.

The bakery section was too dangerously tempting for me to wander into, but it weakened me by the time I got to the candy section. I ended up getting some handmade candy, including watermelon "Twizzlers," sugar-free gummy fish (they had a huge sugar-free section), gumballs in the shape of fruit, and sugar-free "gummy sharks," which I used to give out to friends as a teenager and haven't seen since the 1980s. I would have gotten more, but I was afraid I'd feed half to Scarlet, and she'd be all hyper. I also got Pop Rocks, which were not-hand made, but on the package they state, "A Product of Spain." Think about it for a second: Pop Rocks come from the same country that gave us Toledo swords. I just had to get some and share them with Scarlet.

The prices were wicked-cheap. Half a pound of gummy sharks was only $1.53, and I remember paying $5/lb back in 1987. Meat and bread were very cheap for the high quality, and I would imagine a family could save a lot of money shopping there and get high quality table fare. Whole roasted chicken? Six bucks. Brazed Pot Roast that could easily serve 8? A little less than nine bucks. Large loaf of handmade bread? $1-$2.

Then I wandered into the furniture section and nearly had a furniture-gasm. Having worked in the biz, I know good stuff when I see and touch it, and I had always heard about the Amish and their crafts. Holy hell, I must go there when I need dressers and side tables. While prices started a little higher than, say, Ikea, they were WAY cheaper than the pressed sawdust shit they sell at the Room Store or Marlo's. All the corners matched, the drawers glided open and shut, and every hinge was of the highest quality. I also liked the fact they sold tables just for high-def TVs, with cardboard similes to show that's what they were for. I wonder how they see these?

Anyway, as I finish the last of my unshared gummy sharks, I plan to return next year.
Tags: amish, balticon, candy, furniture
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