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Fruits in the Bronx


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So, we're driving to Yonkers. We take Madison Avenue up to the creatively named Madison Avenue Bridge and make the left to get on the Deegan. But, seeing a surprise traffic jam, we decide to go off-road, take the "sneaky route" past Yankee Stadium and along various service roads that get you past the Cross Bronx exit and it's always smooth sailing from there. The mission to Yonkers is for acquisition of watermelons, on sale 29 cents a pound at ShopRite.

Along the sneaky route we always drive past but don't really acknowledge (just surviving the drive takes all one's attention) the Bronx Terminal Market. And there sure is a lot of fruit there. So I say, should I go in and see if they have watermelons RIGHT HERE?

There's not much parking at New York Produce on the side of the main Terminal Market building. But if you hang around long enough and don't mind infuriating several thousand passing cars that you've forced into opposing traffic (see drive takes all one's attention above) a space eventually opens up. The prices are crazy-low even if you're just buying one of something. I can only imagine what happens when you go into big quantities. It's like, for a whole tray of mangoes, it's $5, which is pretty much what a single mango costs on the Upper East Side. The big-mama SEEDLESS watermelons were 23 cents a pound, lower than the lowest sale price in this region (which was 39 cents a pound this week), and a chunk lower than Costco (selling approx 15 pound watermelons for $5.99). I bought a 20 pounder and a 25 pounder, 44.60 pounds in all, for $10.25. You have to be really careful, though, because these hand-truck-forklift guys are moving around the place, zipping around the corners and blaring their horns. They're not looking where they're going; it's incumbent upon you to get the hell out of the way when you hear a horn, otherwise you will be restocked.

The checkout system is one of the most Byzantine I've seen outside of, well, Byzantium. First you have to ask the price from "Juan" at "the first window." It's not clear that the price Juan tells you is based on anything other than mood, even though he diligently spends five minutes banging on the computer keyboard to give you your answer. If you have something to weigh, such as I did, you then have to go around to the other side of Juan's office where there’s another window and a scale. Juan tells you the weight, calculates the price, you go back to "the first window" and Juan tells you what your "ticket number" is. Then you go over to Juan’s counterpart who is in a maximum security window around the corner and you tell the woman there, "Ticket number 52," and she says, "What number," and you say "Ticket number 52," and she says, "27?" and you say, "52." Then you pay, no credit cards accepted despite the Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover Card stickers prominently displayed on the window, and you get two copies of a receipt. You give one copy to a bouncer-type guy "out front" who stands across from Juan’s window. He keeps his copy and he takes your copy and makes a hieroglyphic notation on it and tears the corner. At that point you are free to go if your car is still there.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Doesn't the Terminal Market have a system where purchases are bagged or box marked for professional pick up people to move? The buyer marks this crate of lettuce, and that case of oranges, etc and moves on to another booth after getting a ticket from the floor guy.

The pick up person then assembles the purchases and brings them to your truck at the loading area. These gentlemen own the franchise to move produce. The buyer isn't expected to move his or her own goods.

I believe the Fulton Fish market had a similar system for many years before Mr Guiliani found new employment for some of the enforcers.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Maybe you're thinking of Hunts Point? Or maybe it's like that early in the morning, but when we were there (mid-afternoon) all the business seemed to be consumer-level cash-and-carry and all the activity seemed to be receiving and restocking. Most of the stores outside the main building weren't even open. So there was no way to witness the full swing of the wholesale operation.

I'd love to find someone who really knows the Bronx Terminal Market, who could give us a consumer-oriented tour and show us how to buy the best stuff cheap. Unlike the Fulton Fish Market, anybody can just walk into the Bronx Terminal Market and buy stuff. The fish place at the South corner of the main building -- the first one that comes into view if you're driving North -- even markets to the consumer, with big signs out front advertising crabs, lobster, etc. There must be a way to take advantage of this situation.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd love to find someone who really knows the Bronx Terminal Market, who could give us a consumer-oriented tour and show us how to buy the best stuff cheap. Unlike the Fulton Fish Market, anybody can just walk into the Bronx Terminal Market and buy stuff. The fish place at the South corner of the main building -- the first one that comes into view if you're driving North -- even markets to the consumer, with big signs out front advertising crabs, lobster, etc. There must be a way to take advantage of this situation.

E-gullet road trip, perhaps?

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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One thing you learn very quickly as a photographer is that there are certain kinds of places where if you whip out a camera and start snapping photos they kill you. Either you learn it or you don't, that is.

Isn't that a job for the Sneaky "FatGuyDigPenCam then? :wink: Discretely while its poking out of a shirt pocket and you look like you are scratching an itch on your neck or something?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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