Street Vendors Fill Port Orleans’ Marketplace!

They came from the fertile farming commu­nities spread across the rich river delta. In little wagons filled to the top with the fresh produce from that day’s harvest, vendors would peddle their products throughout the bustling midtown marketplace. Entire families of vegetable and fruit vendors lined the marketplace very early in the morning in portable stands and colorful carts. Their carts brimmed over with ochre, carrots, collard greens and tomatoes.

In the shops of the marketplace, butchers hung up the choicest meats and tenderest cuts of beef. Andoille sausage and racks of pork and ham were prominently displayed in the windows. From these very shops, restaurant chefs and household cooks would argue over who got to the best cuts first.

As the activity around the carts and produce stands began to reach its peak, a variety of basket vendors would wind their way through the streets selling their homemade products. These “specialty belles” were known by the particular product they made. Some of the better known had names like Pastry Paula, Peg Brown Egg, Blueberry Babbette and Patty Pie Peddler.

The most successful developed calls to attract customers. Each caller tried to outdo the next with their clever bellowing. One such vendor became known as Trumpeting Tom. This lad accompanied his parents to the market to sell custard-coated baguettes — the original French Toast. As their cart clattered over the cobblestones, he would play a small bugle and sing, “Come and get your tasty baguettes. So delicious, you’ll never forget.”

It was an entertaining atmosphere that would attract residents and visitors alike who came just to enjoy the show.

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