Unheard of, right?
I mean, it's the biggest Sunday market in Southern California. It's hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling everything from Catalina oysters to fourteen kinds of eggplant to Holmby Hills bee pollen to grass-fed, sustainably-raised, humanely-slaughtered beef to fifty kinds of homemade kimchi.
But I went this morning with my daughter and it didn't feel like my "home" markets (in order of where I've lived, that'd be Westwood, West Hollywood, Studio City, Santa Monica, Studio City again, and Irvine). Even though the vendors are many of the same people I know, the crowds made it hard to be social.
And the PRICES -- my GOD the PRICES. The same -- the EXACT same -- bunch of basil that was at Irvine for $1.50 last Saturday was $3 today. Same farm, same vendor. Bread for SIX DOLLARS A LOAF! And this is without counting things that I knew would be shockingly expensive ($15 a three-pack for Harry's Berries, anyone?). I usually spend $40-$50 on a week's worth of shopping at Irvine (let's call it produce, pasta, seafood, bread and oil). Today, not counting the bison and pork I bought, it was $73.
I know it's busy, and it's good that it's busy, but it was just kind of oppressive -- and the cars driving up past the booths to the parking structure on Ivar made it just so much worse.
I've had this reaction before at Hollywood, and I *don't* have it to Santa Monica Wednesday (OK, except the price thing, because SM Wed is just as expensive). I think it's honestly that I started to feel claustrophobic, hemmed in, and it coloured the whole experience. SM Wed. is wider -- Irvine is wider -- Studio City is wider, and so there's more room to circulate. (The other markets that give me that closed-in feeling are Calabasas, because of the huge presence of Roadblock Stroller-Pushing Parent People, and the old Glendale one when it was along the sidewalk on Brand.)
Sour grapes, I'm sure, but I needed to get it off my chest. Bad experience or not, there is no better place to get the truly obscure, and for a tourist who isn't actually shopping for their weekly food but is just ogling the truly mind-bending array of food produced within 200 miles of Hollywood and Vine it's an amazing experience...
...but I'm kind of glad my Irvine market isn't like that, and it was a powerful reminder why I went to Studio City on Sundays even though Hollywood was just five minutes further away.
Let the browbeating begin...