From an unlikely source, I purchased a book about Market Square yesterday. Talking with Jane Jordan, a vendor at the Farmer’s Market, our conversation turned to Marquis de Lafayette. One of Jane’s watercolor paintings depicts the front door at 301 South St. Asaph. The famed General and close friend of George Washington paid this corner spot a visit in 1824.
Turns out Jordan drew some of the illustrations for a new book by Alexandria resident Tiffany D. Pache, titled “The Market Square Cookbook, Alexandria’s Founders, Farmers and Food.” Picking up on my interest in Alexandria’s history, Jane reached into a bag underneath her table, and pulled out some copies of Pache’s book.
“The first fourteen pages,” she said, “cover the history of Market Square. The author did a great job with her research.”
After handing Jane the twenty-two dollars, I began to thumb through the book. As if on cue, Pache walked up. We talked briefly, she signed my copy, and I thanked her for her book.
Paradoxically, Market Square, believed to be the longest continually running farmer’s market in the United States, is not covered as much as it could be, vis a vis historical markers. The large stone tablet on the north side of City Hall touches on some aspects, but this historic block is a prime candidate for an interpretive marker of its own.
Drawing on her abilities as a journalist, and research she conducted at the Special Collections section of the Alexandria Library, the author has given us a sorely needed look at one of the grand institutions in the entire Washington region. And food lovers need not worry. This is a cookbook with over 50 pages worth of recipes.
Pache traces the history of Market Square from its inception in 1750 to the present day. A proud and importmant moment for Alexandrians came in 1752 when the Virginia House of Burgess approved the move of the county seat and courthouse from a site near present day Tysons Corner to Alexandria.
Through the years, the arrangement of Market Square's properties went through a series of changes. Pache explains them all with ease, and provides several drawings showing each different phase. Readers will be fascinated to learn the market was once subdivided by Sharpshin Alley and Market Alley. The Market House’s third floor held the City’s Museum.
A nice bonus are color photos and bios of some of the vendors who sell their products at the Farmer’s Market. Jane Jordan is one of them, and I thank her for her thoughtfulness and the sale of the book.
And, of course, to all the vendors and farmers present and past. It is you who keep this great tradition alive and well. In the language of General Lafayette - merci beaucoup!