Sunday, May 24, 2009

Merchants' Celebration

Rick Nichols nailed it in his report on the Reading Terminal Market Merchants’ Association soiree held May 17 (”On the Side: Market’s old-times fill plates with memories,” The Inquirer, May 21, 2009). Centered around the showing of the 11-minute video, part of a larger oral history project, the event was a celebration of the market and its history.

The highlight (besides the lamb chops) was Tootsie D’Ambrosio’s singing of Happy Birthday, a la Marilyn Monroe, to Harry Ochs. Tootsie, who operates Salad Express at the market, is one of the Iovine clan, sister to Jimmy, Vinnie and all the rest.

A number of former vendors were invited, including Jill Horn, who many may remember as the owner of Jill’s Vorspeise. When I first started shopping at the RTM in 1982, Jill was located against the back wall behind Iovine Brothers Produce, and later moved to the center court spot now occupied by Mezze. In addition to her various salads and appetizer, she made a killer vegetable patĂ© with orange (carrot), green (spinach?) and white (?) layers.

Tim Bellew, btw, will be the chef at Meze, the Fairmount Avenue restaurant scheduled to open sometime this fall just two blocks from my house. If he’s got those lamb chops on the menu, I may be a regular. Charles Giunta, who supplied the lamb, and Vinnie Iovine attest to Tim’s culinary skills.

Besides the lamb chops, the favorite of many atttendees was dessert, served at Bassett’s counter. In addition to your choice of ice cream, various little cakes and fudge were served.

Don Mitchell, who produced the video shown at the party, has about 100 hours of interviews with market merchants and customers, but funding is needed to complete the project. DVDs of the video were for sale at the event to help raise funds for the project, and I suspect they will be made available to the public soon.

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