Italian Market tour – Philadelphia
One of the best ways of experiencing a culture and a new country, is by exploring it’s foods, so I took a wonderful historical Italian market tour.
The US is a magnificent country with a very interesting mix of cultures and heritages. I would even dare to say you can find the whole world within this country!
Seems like every culture and every type of gastronomy can be found in every big American city.
I took a free tour to learn more about the history of this charming area along the 9th street and Fitzwater. As odd as it might sound, I felt at home immediately. There’s a strong Italian feel about the place still, even though most of the new generation of Italians has blend in mainstream America and the market has now mostly Mexican stall vendors.
The Italian Market of Philadelphia history can be traced to the year of 1884, when the Italian Immigrant Paulino Palumbo, started to receive Italian immigrants in his boarding house.
A great community of Italian and Sicilian immigrants started to settle in and a number of specialized shops started to open around the 9th street in order serve the new community.
In the late 1880’s, the 9th street and Fitzwater, were not included on the original outline of the city by William Penn. Although this neighborhood was definitely out of the Philadelphia’s city plan, it was a rich cultural area, which thrived and flourished.
The Italian community grew and this colorful outdor market, offered everything that an Italian could find in their homeland. From great Olive oils, to cheese, pastas, fish and meats. I visited a store specialized in olive oils and… I was amazed with the variety of flavors!
Most of the other ethnicities moved out during those days, the Italians remained and the market became known as the Italian Market. Nowadays, Shoppers may buy their food in the same store their parents, grandparents, and possibly great grandparents did.
Although the coffee beans might be originally from other parts of the world, the Italians, seem to know their way around coffee pretty well. The aromas of fresh grind coffee at some stores is incredible.
Of course the market has changed over the decades and nowadays, an influx of Mexican and Vietnamese immigrants have open their stores alongside the old Italian stores. There’s a mix of cultures at this once all Italian market. If you love Mexican or Vietnamise food, this is the place to go.
To the day, Philadelphia’s Italian market is the largest, outdoor, continuous market in the country.