Thursday 2/14/2013 C and I threw on some clothes as soon as the babies woke up. We packed breakfast and coffee to come with us and piled into the car. We were OFF ON AN ADVENTURE.
I love adventures.
I’ve had it in my head to go see the Hunts Point Produce Market for, like, 3 years now. Minimum.
I thought it’d look like a giant farmers market. I thought it would be, like, one big open space (the website says it’s 60acres big) and all the wholesalers would have stalls selling their wares.
C looked at me and said, ‘Um, where did you get that idea?’ I shrugged. ‘TV probably.’
This was NOTHING like that.
First off, this place is definitely NOT tourist friendly. NOT NOT NOT. You have to drive there, pay to park, provide photo ID and pay an admission fee. Then you…sorta…follow the cars in front of you to find parking. No signs. Just semis. Lots and lots of semi trucks. It’s pretty daunting. All you see are these long buildings with a field of semis and lots of people with those motorized hand trucks. I looked at C and said, ‘Did we make a mistake coming here? Should we be doing this?’ He shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Well, it’s an adventure.’ I love this man.
We pulled into a spot, loaded the babies into the stroller and hoped for the best. We watched some guy drive his motorized hand cart down a ramp and decided to go up. Now, let me give you a visual. There are 3 or 4 loooooong buildings, like several blocks long.
One side of these terminals is crammed with delivery trucks – these are the distributors (the people who deliver to bodegas and supermarkets and restaurants). The other side of the terminal are the semis that bring in the produce from the farmers. In the middle are the people. They are everywhere! People loading crates of produce, people haggling over money, people arguing and spitting and yelling and laughing. People moving packages and crates and hand trucks and motorized carts. Everything is bright and loud and crowded and dirty. It’s awesome.
Everyone was SUPER nice to us, smiling and pointing at the babies. I stopped one guy and asked him if he knew where I could buy Jalapeños. ‘You see that third hanging sign? That one over there? Go through the plastic on the right and look for a guy name George. He’ll help you.’
Ok, off we went. We went through hanging sheets of hard plastic to go into a cold warehouse kinda place. Behind some windows we found George. He was the guy in the Yankees hat. He told me he could sell me jalapeños for $15 for a 10 pound box or $24 for a 40 pound box. FORTY POUNDS?
I’m outta my league here. I’ve been buying my jalapeños from the chinese market for about $1/lb and buying them 2-3 pounds atta time. TEN POUNDS? That’s a little scary to me. C and I discussed the prices and decided to move on.
We left, dodging guys with hand trucks as we wended our way back to the middle of the terminal. We decided that if that’s the price of the jalapeños here, I’ll keep buying them from the chinese market, but since we were here, we might as well keep looking! So off we went.
We turned right and meandered down the terminal, smiling and saying hi to all the people we met. Every once in a while we’d see someone’s produce laid out. When we saw the displays I’d go ask how much they’d charge me for a box of jalapeños.
I somehow got braver and braver the more people I asked. I stopped being afraid to ask questions and I sorta realized that everyone is there to sell to me, so why shouldn’t they be nice?
We decided to go explore a second terminal before calling it a day. We found a ramp, crossed a parking lot and went up a second ramp into another terminal. This one had tons of international fruits and vegetables. It was here that we found a 12-15lb box of jalapeños for $12 (we didn’t weigh it, just believed him that it was at least 12 lbs). I asked for a peek – these are some seriously pretty jalapeños. I never before thought about just how sexy they can be! Woo Hoo! I had such fun taking pictures of the jalapeños.
I ordered the box of jalapeños from the guy behind the counter, who gave me a slip of paper. I took that to a cashier’s window. I gave her my $12 and she handed me back a receipt and told me to go down two doors to the warehouse manager. He was standing on a platform with a desk. I handed him my receipt and he called for Manuel, who walked me through the ice-cold warrens of warehouse to find the jalapeño room. He picked a nice box for me and I carried it back to the front of the warehouse = the middle of the terminal.
So I took over the stroller and C carried the big-assed box of jalapeños back across the terminal, down the ramp and across the parking lot to our car.
I know that I’m not at a level yet where I need to buy my jalapeños in quantities like this, plus, it was awfully pricey once you add in gas and tolls and parking/admission fees. Still – WHAT an adventure! I’m SO GLAD we went!
All this before 9am.