Today I accompanied Cal’s second grade class to the Pike Place Market, as part of the preparation for holding their own market. I had an hour to kill between the time I dropped off my boys at the start of school and the trip, so I went to a nearby coffee shop. I was a double tall latte drinker for more than twenty years; I finally burned out on it. I now vacillate between the cappuccino and the Americano. I love the texture of an Americano, but sometimes find it hard going without any milk. I asked the smiling, young, tattooed, earringed barista if he would mind adding some steamed milk to my Americano. I chattered on, telling him I supposed there was an official name for that drink, an Americano with a bit of steamed milk, but that I didn’t know it, so I might not be ordering as efficiently as I could be. I proceeded to discuss how adding cold milk or cream totally ruins it for me, and recounted how one of my children, after I weaned him, would only drink milk from a cup if I’d warmed it, for years, building a case for the superiority of warmed milk. He visibly paled at the mention, the mere suggestion, of breast milk. I, in turn, squirmed in my Sperrys in line, and my cheeks burned with embarrassment at the discomfort I’d caused as I paid for my drink.
At the start of the field trip, we gathered in a conference room with a representative of the market. The energetic, upbeat man welcomed us, then excitedly told the kids he’d been lucky enough to procure a special market delicacy for them: fish noses. “Luckily, they’re fried. Some people don’t like the texture of fish noses, but frying makes everything good. Who wants to volunteer to be the first taster?” Cal’s hand shot up - the only hand that went up at all. So he was summoned to the front of the room, and asked to hold out his hand with eyes closed. Something large, round and fried was placed in his hand. I had an internal debate about whether or not I would try them. Lo and behold, the ‘fish noses’ were actually donut holes. We each got two; sugar coated, still warm, delicious. Later, Cal whispered to me about his disappointment at the bait-and-switch. He’d take seafood over sweets any day.
We walked the market stalls and streets, flooded with morning autumnal sun, with an eye for what was being sold, and what the various jobs were. A farmer grows and sells the vegetables, a baker assembles and bakes the piroshky, a busker entertains the crowds. We walked by a specialty food shop and one of the boys loudly exclaimed, “My dad would love this store. They sell wine!” I made a mental note to make a pact with the other parents. I won’t believe everything I hear about you, if you don’t believe everything you hear about me.