Saturday, August 16, 2014


I'm happy to say that Columbia's "Soda City Market" is definitely alive, well and thriving.  What started small has grown to become not just a weekly market, but an event.  Today the venders were so numerous that they spilled over into Boyd Plaza at the Columbia Museum of Art.  

Ran into Grandma & Grandpa there

Boyd Plaza outside the art museum

Me and my sweet baby girl

Kettle corn samples!
The three of us enjoy going not just to check out the produce but to eat.  The food vendors now range from restaurant favorites like Rosso & The Oak Table to the other awesome street vendors serving delicious tamales & empanadas, African foods, soba noodles being stir-fried in giant woks, the BBQ bus, the Wurst Wagen, huge kettles of corn and my new favorite...Mary's Arepas.

 I'd never heard of arepas until today.  I approached their tent and saw two griddles with what looked like johnny cakes on them.  I had to ask.  

Arepas on the griddle
It was explained that this is a food from Colombia, South America.  It's a cake made from corn flour, butter, milk and fried on the griddle.  Then, it's sliced and filled with various yumminess.  Today's choices were a vegetarian mixture (eggplant, peppers, onions, etc.), chicken or beef.  They had already run out of chicken by the time I got there, so I chose the beef.  It looked like it was a combination of ground beef, onion and carrot.  I watched as the lady (Mary?) sliced about halfway into the arepa and spooned the hot beef filling into in then topped with a bit of cheese.  I'm always intrigued by anything I've never heard of and so I was truly excited to receive mine.

Fresh and hot right off the griddle!

Pretty disappointed I only ordered one; that means I have to share

The arepa is a lot like a johnny cake but it's much more tender and soft than the old Southern classic.  The outside was crispy & golden and then the soft interior cradled that beef filling.  In a word, it was fantastic. Neil and I shared one and afterwards I declared that next Saturday we're going back for another one, if nothing else.

The market itself was really fun today.  The awesome violin player was there.  So was the balloon artist.  Vivi got a nice rendition of "Frozen" face paint.  

In the artist's chair

Complete with jewel between the eyes

Glittery and Frozen
We got a sample of the kettle corn, which was really great (bringing some of that home next time.)  They use gourmet popcorn that pops up big and round and perfect.

Kettle Corn Fresh & Hot

 We had Vivi's favorite: the pork tamale & a beef empanada. She used her own money to purchase a ginger lemonade and a rice Krispie treat on a stick.  

Rice Krispie Pop

The Wurst Wagon was serving schnitzel today.  I would've loved to buy that too, but after sharing tamales, empanadas and arepas, I was about at the limit.  Next week, though, if schnitzel is on the menu, I'm there.  I've also never tried the BBQ bus, which I really want to do.  Oh yeah, that soba noodle booth was rockin' the house too.  

Island noodles rockin' the wok

Clearly, next week I need to fast after noon on Friday and just go to the market to binge eat on Saturday morning!

If you haven't put Soda City on your weekend calendar, you need to get a pencil right now.  I overheard a man today telling someone on his phone that he was at "some kind of festival."  I whispered to him, "It's the weekly local market, every Saturday."  He stopped and the face paint lady, Neil and I kept feeding him other details which he then relayed to his phone friend.  That's right, Columbians, it's EVERY Saturday.  Come load up on fresh veggies, homemade pasta, homemade goat cheese, local honey, handmade jewelry, birdhouses, art, photography, science demonstrations, freshly made juices, and boiled peanuts!  

Beautiful 'shrooms

Neil and Viv in market euporia dream sequence

We love the blue-haired peanut lady!
Don't forget, the businesses along the way are there for you too...Wine Down, Mast General Store, Good Life Cafe & Paradise Ice.  The market is held every Saturday in the 1500 block on Main Street, just outside the art museum.  If it rains, don't worry, they just move into the nearby parking garage!  See you next week at the market...

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