I am moving soon to the United States for work so I have decided to spend my last weeks (work, weather and move permitting) visiting those places that I had no time to visit up to now in and around Ottawa and Ontario.
Last weekend, I went back to Toronto and I went to the Saint Lawrence Market for the day.
It is an interesting place to visit not only to learn about the city's food culture but also for its historical value. The original market opened here was called Market Square and I found out that this place was for a long time the centre of the social life of the city where, in addition to the sale of food and other goods, public punishments were carried out, and when slavery was still legal, black slave auctions were also held.
Saint Lawrence's first covered structures date back to the 19th- century. Today it is a very modern market with an area divided into three buildings: the South Market, the North Market and St. Lawrence Hall.
The North Market is famous for its historic farmers’ market which has been held here every Saturday since the 19th century.
Farmers’ markets are very popular in Canada and the USA.
They are managed at times by non-profit organizations and sometimes by the government.
Here, farmers sell directly to customers, but they can also operate as agricultural wholesalers. In this case the markets are public and managed by state employees.
In some large cities such as Toronto, farmers’ markets, in addition to selling classic agricultural products, also sell handicrafts and other homemade goods.
Farmers wishing to participate in a farmers’ market must meet certain requirements, for instance, the company must be located within the county where the agricultural market takes place in order to ensure consumers a product of local origin and favour local companies.
In addition, at least 70% of the products must be produced by the farmer or seller, or under his direct supervision. The farmer can be directly a seller or delegate one or more of his family members or employees for the sale.
To become a seller, the farmer must fill out a form and pay a direct sale fee, as well as undergo the usual health checks by the competent institutions.
Southern Ontario vendors gather at this market to sell their seasonal produce and, on Sundays, the farmers' market turns into a flea market where you can find a bit of everything from antiques and modern furnishings to jewels, porcelain, and some other collectible wonders.
St. Lawrence is considered one of the best Canadian gourmet food markets to exist and cooking classes are also held there at the market kitchen.
It's quite difference from the North Market because at St. Lawrence one can find a lot of imported foods whereas the North Market specialises in local products.
At St. Lawrence one can find pastries, French cheese, Italian cold cuts and a lot of other goodies from all over the world.
The vendors are quite friendly and it is not uncommon to be offered some samples while walking on the premises.
I was offered some freshly baked baguette bread to die for and one can also eat at the tables and sample some foods here and there to try out new things.
Locals told me that you cannot leave the market without eating one of Canada's must-have sandwich combos with maple bacon, an award-winning sandwich from this place.
The South Market is instead well-known for hosting an interesting art gallery and it’s a place which attracts artists from all over Canada and beyond.