Theres no day like MARKET DAY IN KITCHENER!

Clustering, groaning stalls tended by Amish and Mennonite farmers'wives explode with flowers, handwork and the succulent, redolent delights of schnitz, sausages, kochkaes und kimmel and shoofly pie. But you should come early, or,"Ach, it's all already, you should haf come sooner yet"

Edna Staebler September 4 1965

Theres no day like MARKET DAY IN KITCHENER!

Clustering, groaning stalls tended by Amish and Mennonite farmers'wives explode with flowers, handwork and the succulent, redolent delights of schnitz, sausages, kochkaes und kimmel and shoofly pie. But you should come early, or,"Ach, it's all already, you should haf come sooner yet"

Edna Staebler September 4 1965

Theres no day like MARKET DAY IN KITCHENER!

Clustering, groaning stalls tended by Amish and Mennonite farmers'wives explode with flowers, handwork and the succulent, redolent delights of schnitz, sausages, kochkaes und kimmel and shoofly pie. But you should come early, or,"Ach, it's all already, you should haf come sooner yet"

Edna Staebler

ALMOST EVERY SATURDAY morning of my life in Kitchener, Ontario, I have gone — and still go — to the beautiful farmers’ market behind the city hall, where plump placid women, wearing the plain clothes and bonnets of various Amish and Mennonite sects, come — as they have come since 1839 — to sell tiny cobs of pickled corn, apple butter, shoofly pie. kochkaes unci kimmel (cook-cheese with caraway), schwadamahga sausage, crocheted doilies, and goose wings that are “extra goot for cleaning out the corners.” Every Saturday, and Wednesdays in the summer and fall, I take home more than 1 really need of the cheeses, meat, fowl, fresh-picked vegetables, fruits and flowers that to me seem more lavish and beautiful than any in the famous markets 1 have visited in Paris and Strasbourg in France, Berne

and Fribourg in Switzerland, Seville in Spain, Caernarvon in Wales, Haarlem in Holland, Mexico City, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and New Orleans.

I buy until 1 fill up the trunk of my car; then I go home and prepare dandelion salad, schnitz und knepp (apples and dumplings), schmearkaes (buttermilk curd), and Dutch apple pie, with recipes brought to Waterloo County by the Mennonite settlers one hundred and sixty - live years ago.

Another joy of the Kitchener market is meeting friends and relatives, and watching the shoppers; pert housewives in slims, shuffling old men, couples haggling in German, Gordon Sinclair (all the way from Toronto) in a loud plaid shirt, old-country peasant women ! continued overleaf

continuée/ ! wearing babushkas and big, flat, black shoes, goggle-eyed tourists w’ith cameras or sketch pads, kitchener’s head librarian, Dorothy Shoemaker, blissfully absorbed by little children lost among adult legs. In summer I greet acquaintances on their way to the Shakespearean Festival at Stratford and show them where to buy gingerbread men, or smoked pork chops to be refrigerated temporarily in Kitchener’s obliging hotels.

At the height of the Saturday-morning trade it is impossible to hurry (but who would want to?) through the aisles made by the long rows of tables inside the twostory brick building (five hundred and twenty-five of them at last count), or to buck the crowds along the one hundred and fifty stands and vendors’ trucks that line the outdoor platforms in spring, summer and fall. For blocks around the streets are jammed with cars, parking lots are packed solid, and traffic police try almost in vain to keep people moving.

The market opens at five in the morning and closes at two in the afternoon. I've never been there so early and I know better than to go there so late, since by noon many of the farmers have sold out. From seven until eleven o'clock is the busiest time. If I ever get there before seven I’ll meet my mother, who doesn’t want to combat the traffic that develops later; before eight I'll see my friend Mardie Broome, who likes a choice of the best; or young Joe Zuber, this year’s Kitchener Rotary Club president, selecting delicacies for the gourmet dining room of his father’s Walpcr Hotel — kohlrabi, watercress, gooseberries to stuff geese, Hede’fingen cherries f'r roast duckling. If I arrive after nine and want kochkaes, I'm sure to be told by the Mennonite woman whose cheese I prefer, “If I hat some I'd gif you any but what I got iss all.”

Year after year, from childhood until old age, the regular shoppers go faithfully to the same farmers every week, carrying bottles for cream, boxes for eggs, and bowls for kochkaes in their large wicker baskets. They inspect and price other produce, and move on, to return to buy the best — or the cheapest. Though I buy regularly from certain farmers I don't know their names and I don’t think they know mine — except such old-timers as Sam Roth, who only last week said to me, “1 remember you from way back yet when you used to come with your ma.”

In those days, drawing my little redwheeled express wagon, 1 waited for my mother at the end of the long cement platform with all the kids who, by delivering customers’ baskets to their homes, earned enough five-cent pieces to admit them to the Roma theatre to see the Phantom Rider on Saturday afternoon. I always waited impatiently while Mother shopped and visited and eventually filled her baskets.

When Mother learned to run the family Nash, she drove the two blocks from °ur house to the market and 1 stili had to go with her to help carry her baskets to the car. The only things that interested me in those days were the kittens and puppies sold by farm children just outside the back door, and the fluffy chicks and baby bunnies they brought at Easter.

Now I go eagerly to the market be-

cause I thoroughly enjoy every bit of it. Upstairs, the variety ranges from sauerkraut to shell jewelry; home baking, sewing, handicrafts and comb honey, wool socks, fresh fish, the homemade soap. Halfway down the right aisle a blond young man has bundles of freshly dried herbs. By the back stairs is blind Peter Lipniki's popcorn machine. Against the left wall, near the front, a Mennonite woman, wearing a white organdy prayer cap. offers crisp, deep-fried “rosettes”; she tells me. “With ice cream on top and crushed berries over, they gif a dessert good enough for a funeral.” At the other end of the aisle bearded men and pretty black-kerchiefed women of the Communal Colony of the Brethren sell pillows, noodles, and the greaselcss geese that attract buyers from as far away as New York State and Detroit.

In the basement along the outside aisles are the butchers: those from the city on the left, those from the country and neighboring villages on the right. Buyers, three deep in front of the tables, jostle to buy pigs' tails. Black Forest-style hams, and an incredible assortment of sausages. One German city butcher has seventyfive varieties of processed meats. Farmers sell fresh fowl, squabs, and rabbits; one country butcher sells half a ton of smoked or fresh pork sausage every week. In great demand are brunschweiger. blood-and-tongue sausage, gefüllte kalhs hrust (veal breast stuffed with pork and green pistachios), ga'rich (jellied pig’s hocks) and schwadamahpa sausage (a pressed mixture of chopped pork skin, heart and head, encased in a stomach and smoked). My favorite is farmer's summer sausage. Occasionally for an oldfashioned treat, 1 buy a small piece of head cheese, to melt, spread over boiled potatoes, and eat with a sour-cream salad.

Several vendors have lintburger and other cheeses made in Waterloo County cheese factories. Many farm women, along with their eggs or tatted fancies, bring a crock of kochkaes and kinunel. made by boiling ripened sour-milk curd till it looks like congealed glue; flecked with caraway seed, it has a delicate flavor. If you don’t come early to get it you’ll be told, “Ach, it’s all already, you should haf come sooner yet.”

At a table not quite midway along the left aisle downstairs, a short, plump, black-bonneted woman offers little pats of sclvnearkaes wrapped in waxed paper, for a nickel each. I buy a quarter’s worth to prepare as she tells me: “You chust mix it with a little salt and plenty sweet cream till it's real extra smooth, then you put some in a nappie, pour lots of mable sirup over” — she winks and smiles broadly — “and that really schmecks (tastes good).”

Throughout the market building roundcheeked farmers' wives sell pasteurized sour cream. The supply seldom meets the demand: no Waterloo County dinner is complete without a sour-cream salad, so easy to make. A teaspoonful of sugar, a teaspoon of vinegar, salt, pepper, and half a cupful of sour cream serves three people when dribbled over tender leaf or butter lettuce, with chives or onion.

The same sour-cream dressing is wonderful on string-bean salad. I shnippel (french) the beans, boil them in salted water till they ! continued on page 3d

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Live a little: try a schnitz pie


continued j rom page 17

are barely cooked, drain, cool, and generously smother them with the dressing to which I add plenty of onion that 1 slice thin, sprinkle with salt, let stand for ten minutes, then squeeze (I don’t know why this is done but my mother has always done it and the flavor is special). She does the same thing with peeled, thinly sliced cucumbers (discarding the juice) before adding squeezed onion and sour-cream dressing to make a super salad. I’m sorry I can’t give exact measurements — people always eat more than they think they can.

Any Mennonite woman who sells cream at the market will tell you to use a warm sour-cream dressing for endive or dandelion salad: fry until crisp several slices of slivered bacon, remove the bits from the drippings and pour away all but two tablespoonfuls of the fat: mix one tablespoon of salt, two of sugar, two of vinegar, one and a half teaspoons of flour, and a cupful of thick sour cream; pour into the pan with the bacon fat and cook slowly till it thickens. Just as the family sits down to eat, pour the warm (not hot) mixture over crisp, cut-up endive or dandelion, mix lightly, garnish with hard-boiled eggs and the bacon bits, and serve with potatoes,

broiled smoked pork chops, roasted pig’s tails, or farmer’s browned pork sausage, with a schnitz, pie for dessert.

Schnitz pie can be bought at the market from any number of the farm women. Into a pastry-lined pie plate they place pieces of apple cut into schnitz (segments about an inch thick); over them they spread crumbs made of one cup of brown sugar, three tablespoons of soft butter, and three tablespoons of flour rubbed together. A sprinkle of cinnamon, dabs of sour cream, and the pie is ready to be baked till the apples are soft and golden. It’s best served slightly warm, with cheddar.

The market changes with the changing seasons. In January and February only a few vendors use the outdoor platforms; everyone else crowds into the building. Old Mrs. Kieswetter, walking like a queen, comes every week with her bowl to buy kochkaes; Mrs. Czezuliki, wearing mink and plaid slacks, always comes for root vegetables and house plants. One farm woman wouldn’t miss coming to market though she has only a pot of cooked navy beans, four quarts of onions and half a dozen bottles of fresh horse radish for sale. Other farm women who have no grown things to sell in winter, bring homemade bread, fastnachts (raised doughnuts), and dried schnitz.

The sight of schnitz at the market on a cold winter day suggests a warm steamy Mennonite kitchen with a couch in a corner, a table set with ironstone china, and a big. black, wood-burning cook-stove with a ham bubbling slowly. Before the ham is cooked off the bone, two cups of schnitz, two tablespoonsful of brown sugar, and water that has been used to cover and soak the schnitz overnight, are added and cooked for an hour. Then the knepp (dumplings) are dropped in. covered tightly, and cooked for twelve minutes without lifting the lid. The ham. schnitz und knepp are then served with potatoes, hot coleslaw, or bean salad, and shoofly pie for dessert.

From the middle of blustery March [ start looking at the market for pussy willows and the first maple syrup. That's when my mother used to make her own version of shoofly' pie. so chewy and sweet we called it candy pie. Into an unbaked pie shell she poured a capful of maple syrup, dissolving half a teaspoon of soda, and oser it she spread crumbs made with brown sugar, flour and butter as for schnitz pie. While the pie was baking to a rich warm brown, the luscious sticky goo usually ran over into the oven.

The market looks like a garden when spring comes. Almost every table in the building has pailsful of flowers: violets, bleeding hearts, honeysuckle. old-fashioned green and yellow double daffodils, apple blossoms, lily of the valley. On the outdoor platforms hopeful gardeners flit from flats of seedlings to baskets of pansies and petunias, to rose bushes, shrubs, trees, raspberry canes, and almost anything you can think of that will grow in this part of the world.

As summer progresses the colors of the market change from delicate shades to the bold ones of marigolds and delphiniums. The tables are loaded with bushels of cucumbers, melons, and corn. Families come to carry fruits and pickles for mamma to can and make into relishes and jam. I run back and forth many times to my car with baskets of tomatoes, peaches, and yellow transparents that make the best applesauce.

There is a mellow air of thanksgiving as fall comes to the market with sweet cider, grapes that make wine, pumpkins, wild mushrooms,

and weirdly shaped gourds, everlasting straw flowers, purple plums and big winter pears.

From the end of November the market begins to look like a Christmas bazaar as the farmers’ wives display the work of their ever-busy hands: crocheted baskets stiffened with silgar, knitted mitts, scarves, and tuques, cushion tops, dolls’ clothes, aprons, smocked dresses for little girls: there are innumerable (and awful) novelties made of styrofoam, ribbons and lace.

driftwood centrepieces and decorations for mantels. Indian baskets, carved wood and leather goods. The Christmas baking is irresistible: hard round phefferniiss, anise-flavored lepkuchen. springerle with bas - relief pictures pressed on their pale tops, and thousands of cookies shaped like stars, trees, bells and Kris Kringle.

People often say to me. ‘‘Why do you go to the market every week? You can buy just as well at the stores."

1 tell them the market is much more exciting, more sociable, and more fun. The Kitchener market is marvellous: nowhere else in the world that I’ve seen is there such fresh, clean, lush profusion. It gives me a feeling of security, abundance, and anticipation of joy. It gives me deep satisfaction. It has only one drawback: if I’m not careful, my overindulgence in its rich luscious foods could make me as round and “wonderful fat” as some of the happy Old Mennonites are. ★