Our favorite (i.e. only) guest blogger Brian insisted on ranting publicly about the erstwhile genteel-sounding Mt. Vernon Flower Mart. Frankly though, I’m not a fan simply because it occurs on weekdays, further choking traffic in mid-town where drivers tend to be even shittier than your run-of-the-mill Baltimore non-driving stupid motherf…but I digress. Enjoy.
It’s the time of year that every sensible city dweller dreads. Spring kicks off various festivals and glorified flea markets that bring hordes of slack-jawed county folks pouring into the city to wander aimlessly, endanger pedestrians, and look the other way as their filthy spawn gleefully trash some poor bastard’s sidewalk garden. The only good thing about these nuisance events? The food of course! There’s something special about being able to walk a block from your apartment and enjoy a gyro, a waffle cake, and a beer or two while standing on the sidelines and checking out the jailbait as they shamelessly flaunt themselves about.
Flower Mart, Mount Vernon’s first spring event, happened this weekend and I experienced something truly saddening. Each year the festival foods seem to get at least a dollar more expensive, that’s a given, but this year there was a noticeable decline in the quality of said treats.
Friday, the first day of the Flower Mart, I navigated my way through the crowd, lightly buzzed from a short happy hour. I remembered, possibly erroneously, that a friend recommended the pit beef sandwiches offered at this particular festival. The biggest food stand happened to be the first one I came across. Biddle Street Catering offered pit beef, pit turkey, hot dogs, and various other standards. The line was sizeable but moved quickly, and after few minutes I handed over $6.50 for a foil-wrapped pit beef sandwich that the lovely young lady working the stand retrieved from a buffet warming tray. I didn’t feel like hanging around and listening to a band of 40-somethings bang out dubious covers of Motown hits, so I took my prize home. Practically salivating, I unwrapped the sandwich and found this:
“I paid $6.50 for this?!?”
This sorry-ass squashed little thing seemed to look back at me and shrug, “Hey man, what did you expect?” Hesitantly, I lifted the bun and examined the supermarket lunchmeat-quality slices of roast beef that sat unevenly on the bun, unappetizingly grey in color. That was it. No onions, no horseradish sauce, nothing. With a sigh, I slapped some mayo on the sandwich and ate without joy.
Undaunted, or perhaps just plain stupidly, I headed out on Saturday for another stab at carnival food contentment. With chicken souvlaki on the brain, I made my way to the “Quesadilla Hut,” or at least I think that’s what it was called. When I got within eyeshot of the menu I balked: $8.00 for a chicken souvlaki? The hell with that. Still wary from the pit beef, and not wanting to get burned to the tune of eight bills for another failure, I changed my mind and ordered the old standby – a nice $5.00 Italian sausage with peppers and onions. The lady handed it over, in foil but partially unwrapped, and what I could see of the Italian sausage did not fill me with confidence. Things looked awfully skimpy in there. I was chased off once more by threatening rain clouds and a woman on stage with an acoustic guitar performing an extremely earnest version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” so I dodged the milling unwashed masses and went home. Safe in my kitchen, unwrapping the rest of the Italian sausage confirmed my fears.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!?”
The shriveled little sausage (there was one in there, I swear) didn’t even fill up the bun. I put some mustard on it and once again ate with a heavy heart.
Perhaps I managed to acquire the two sorriest excuses for food that the Flower Mart had to offer this weekend, but this seems to be the beginning of a disturbing trend. I assume that the vendors are pretty much the same from festival to festival. Intelligently commenting on the controversy of increasingly ridiculous food prices would require research that I don’t feel like doing right now, but I can say one thing: This lack of quality will not stand. If the vendors expect someone to blow upwards of twenty bucks for a meal as pathetic as the two I had the misfortune of “enjoying” at the Flower Mart, they have well and truly lost their minds. Time to step it up, folks. Artscape, I’m looking at you.