Lancaster’s Central Market: One of the World’s Ten Best Fresh Markets?

13 May

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I love farmer’s markets and Raj and I frequent Old Town’s very own regularly on Saturday mornings to buy DSC05130produce, flowers, and freshly baked bread. [In case you didn't know, Old Town's market is thought to be one of the nation's oldest continually operating farmer's markets and George Washington sent his produce from Mount Vernon (just down the road) to be sold here.] Anyway, we were searching for a day trip to take and I came across this CNN Travel article, Ten of the World’s Best Fresh Markets. Considering the article’s glowing recommendation and pairing it with my desire to shop for Amish jams and jellies (and perhaps a quilt–Lancaster is the heart of Amish country), it sounded like a perfect day!

DSC05132Lancaster’s Central Market is located in the downtown area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It’s nice, but in no way, shape, or form does it belong on a list of the ‘Ten Best’ in the WORLD (let alone the country). It’s relatively small (think Eastern Market in DC), indoors, and not particularly Amish (as I mistakenly presumed). There were a couple Mennonite and Amish (not sure which and I’m no expert) merchants selling their wares, a couple of flower vendors, a fair sampling of beautiful farm raised vegetables, herbs, fruit…, a few bakeries, a small food court where sandwiches and such were prepared, along with the requisite tchotchke profferers. We bought a couple of loaves of bread from a cute couple and three jars “Amish” jam, which turns out are ‘made in the Amish style,’ meaning we were hoodwinked.

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DSC05150After a short jaunt through the market,  I wanted to get out of the city and onto the country roads where I envisioned bucolic farms and out-of-the-way stands selling unique, one of a kind items along with jams and jellies packaged by unjaded Amish women and girls and made in’ authentic’ ways (without corn syrup–the first ingredient on one of the jams we purchased). We headed towards the towns of Bird in Hand and Intercourse, but my fantasy was left unfulfilled. We stopped at a few ‘Amish’ markets that were less than noteworthy and ended up buying nothing. Nada. Zilch.

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This was an enjoyable day trip that I would highly recommend (preferably on a sunny day), but one needs to go with the understanding that this is a nice fresh market, not a mecca of amazing foodstuffs. Your local farmer’s market is probably better than this one, and if you’re in the mood for authentic Amish wares, you’re better off driving to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, where a much more impressive array of items are readily available.

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After a long drive home, we settled in for the night with a few items we picked up along the way.
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8 Responses to “Lancaster’s Central Market: One of the World’s Ten Best Fresh Markets?”

  1. joe palumbo May 17, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Sounds like a nice place to take a drive to on a sunny day with the top down.. That said, you have a great market right at your door in Old Town but how would you know it is sooo good without experiencing some of the not so hot markets.. The bread, wine and cheese looked like a nice end to a long drive.. Keep on trucking and enjoying the sights… Joep aka Dad

  2. NTP May 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    I’ve been to Lancaster and we stayed overnight there. There were a couple of cool places we visited but a lot of fake Amish. I liked the horse and buggy parking in front of Costco. How long is the drive to Lancaster from DC? I would think that it’s pretty far. You should go back and visit Wheatland, the home of President James Buchanan. It was beautiful and not too publicized. Beautiful original furniture, wallpaper etc. You would like it and they had a good gift shop. That is where I bought a cute hand-blown glass frog. When Buchanan died, he said that he wanted to be reincarnated as a frog:)

    • jenmaaninamman May 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      That’s the place I wanted to go to but forgot its name. I remember there were really cool shops and LOTS of them. When did you stay overnight in Lancaster? That wasn’t on my Presiden’t tour.

      • NTP May 19, 2013 at 10:45 am #

        We stayed at one of the nicest Fairfield Suites, about a block away from a Costco, really close to Wheatland. It was probably in Lancaster.

  3. Jacque May 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Bud and I are dying to go to see Gettysburg, etc. as well as some authentic Amish country wares so we will have to rely on you and Nicole for advice. In spite of the fact that not all was as you envisioned (which is exactly what I have pictured) it looks like you made some good choices for your evening snack!

  4. judy May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    If you ever travel north of US Rte. 15 the is a location called Weaver’s Market on the west side of the highway about 40 miles north of Harrisburg. The Weaver sisters are Mennonites and sell authentic Amish and Mennonite goods, produce from local farmers and bake fresh right on the premises. They have been in business a long time and are a local hit. You can read about th e market here if you want :http://tomberrigan.com/blog1/2013/03/31/weavers-market-same-place-another-time/. Oh and by the way Amish always wear dark colors, use no machines and the Mennonites wear wear blues and reds, etc. Mennonites will use an adding machine or a solar calculator. Always check the feet for what shoes they are wearing.

    • jenmaaninamman May 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

      Hi, Judy, thanks for taking the time to respond. We will definitely venture to the Weaver sisters next time!

  5. The Confluent Kitchen July 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    This place seems like heaven. :)

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