A local treasure since the late 70’s, Your Dekalb Famers Market (yes, that’s the name) really serves as more of an international food bazaar than a traditional farmers’ market. While owner-founder Robert Blazer started the venture as the more conventional version implied by the moniker, YDFM now inhabits a massive, no-frills warehouse space east of Decatur. Even more exciting news, the work’s already begun on a new facility right across the the parking lot, reportedly triple the size of the existing building. Truly a United Nations of food and people, YDTM teems with as many nationalities represented on staff as in the product inventory, it seems. Blazer is known for his commitment to the local immigrant and refugee populations, eager to provide employment and learn from their cultures.
The layout follows that of most supermarkets, but at YDFM it’s all bigger and better and more exotic. Browsing the pantry products, canned foods, and spices reveal foreign items rarely seen with pricetags low enough to allow for adventurous purchases. A beer and wine section boasts similar variety and savings. The candy and cookie sections prove dangerously delightful — seriously, these items in gourmet stores ring up at 2 or 3 times the price. A lush floral department, decadent bakery, coffee-roasting area and hot food bar all reflect the veritable parade of countries proudly marching through here each day.
Produce takes center stage, challenging even the most savvy cook to figure out how to prepare exotic items. A spirit of camaraderie prevails as shoppers discuss recipes and compare selections. On my recent visit, just as I madly searched on my smartphone for directions on preparing Chinese okra, an older gentleman sauntered by, smiled, and in broken English said, “Cut like zucchini.” I stopped in front of the sugar cane, held up a stalk for my boys to see and told them how my PawPaw down in New Orleans gave me bits of this to chew sometimes when I was a girl. Overhearing our conversation, a woman next to me grinned wide, pointed behind her and said, “Take it over there and they’ll juice it for you.”
Move over to the seafood department for even more surprises. An absolutely enormous variety of fish — the lot, a wonder to behold resting on the ice in their full, unskinned glory, ready to be purchased whole or cleaned for customers. A long wall of tanks house three sizes of live lobster, crawling crawfish, and some fish swimming until the last minute of purchase. Great glass cases present the cut filets of fish, as well as all manner of shellfish and crustaceans … and squid and octopii and unnamed creatures from the deep that probably taste excellent with some sort of garlic-butter sauce but, alas, cannot ride home with us. Beyond my skill set.
The meat and deli sections are a similar spectacle. Chicken and turkey, the expected poultry, along with duck, quail and rabbit, are all on display. Beef, lamb and pork share the spotlight with sausages of every conceivable blend. Or perhaps the shopping list calls for bison or goat? If so, c’mon down, they’re carving it up at YDFM.
Ready to take your tastebuds on an expedition? Leave the passport at home and set your GPS for 3000 East Ponce De Leon Ave in Decatur for navigation and check out the details at www.dekalbfarmersmarket.com.