Tours make sense of Pike Place Market’s sensual feast

  • By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
  • Thursday, March 7, 2013 7:01pm
  • Life

Sure, Pike Place Market is the soul of Seattle.

It’s also the epicenter of sensory overload.

The first time I went I felt like one of those fish thrown through the air, only I didn’t have a hunky fishmonger in orange waders to catch me and swaddle my gills.

So, for hours, I stayed adrift in the sea of noise, scents, colors and chaos.

That’s basically how I felt the next five times I went to Pike Place Market. Not that there’s anything bad about that. It was crazy, wild fun to peruse this waterfront bazaar of everything and then some.

It wasn’t until I took the Savor Seattle Tour that the mania of produce, crafts, flowers, fish and frolic started making sense.

The tour through the 105-year-old iconic market is as informative as it is filling.

A guide holding a pink umbrella ushered our group through the crowds and introduced the artisans behind the food. Having someone tell the story of the market while touring it in real time makes you feel tuned into that Seattle vibe.

Plus, you get to eat.

It’s a 10 mini-course meal of tea, coffee, chocolate, cheese, fruit, salmon, chowder, piroshky, crab cakes and hot doughnuts.

It’s also a crash course on Rachel the golden pig, the Gum Wall, how cheese is made and other market culture.

“It’s history plus a meal, all in one,” Savor Seattle Tour founder Angela Shen said.

Shen got into the tour biz in 2007 after moving to Seattle.

“I grew up in the restaurant industry. I thought it would be a great way to connect consumers with people behind the food,” she said. “We are so lucky to have a great food culture.”

She’s not the only gig in town at the market. Other competing tour companies cater to foodies as well as folklore. For example: Market Ghost Tour and Seattle Lust Tour.

With 10 million visitors a year at the market, there’s plenty of tour action to go around.

And plenty of fish.

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com.

Savor Seattle Tour

When: Daily, up to six times. Frequency varies by season.

Where: Pike Place Market, First Avenue and Pike Street.

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $39

Reservations: Required

Information: www.savorseattletours.com

Stops: Daily Dozen Doughnuts, MarketSpice, Pike Place Fish, Frank’s Quality Produce, Pike Place Chowder, Chukar Cherries, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Piroshky-Piroshky and Etta’s Seafood Restaurant

Other market tours

Seattle Ghost Tour: www.seattleghost.com

Seattle Food Tours: www.seattlefoodtours.com

Public Market Tours: www.publicmarkettours.com

Pike Place tidbits

Pike Place Market was founded to give local farmers an opportunity to sell directly to the public. On opening day, Aug. 17, 1907, eight farmers with wagons of produce were overwhelmed by about 10,000 eager shoppers, most of whom went home empty-handed. By the end of 1907, the first market building opened, with every space filled.

The market is home to more than 200 year-round commercial businesses; 190 craftspeople and 100 farmers who rent table space by the day; 240 street performers and musicians; and more than 300 apartment units, mostly for low-income or elderly people.

There are 13 market sites for street performers. Painted musical notes mark the sidewalks where they stand. Horns, percussion and amplified music are not allowed.

The market is open 19½ hours a day, 362 days a year. Hours are from 6 a.m. breakfast to Last Call at 1:30 a.m.

Source: www.pikeplacemarket.com

Daffodil Day

To celebrate spring’s arrival, Pike Place Market community members will hand out 10,000 locally grown daffodils March 20.

More in Life

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Plant of Merit: Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata,’ Japanese aralia

What: Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata,’ or variegated Japanese aralia, is an evergreen shrub… Continue reading

Don’t call Justice Brewing owner a gypsy — he’s just ‘homeless’

After an unexpected hardship, owner Nate McLaughlin won’t be moving his brewery to downtown Everett.

A mild December makes for easy winter cleanup in the garden

If you haven’t finished your November gardening tasks, here’s a list of chores to do this month.

Beer of the Week: Justice Brewing’s Outlook F——d, Northeast IPA

The brewery’s new beer with a vulgar name is a tropical IPA that riffs off its Outlook Hazy recipe.

Yummy Banh Mi offers cheap sandwiches with rich flavor

Classic Vietnamese meets fast food at new restaurant in downtown Everett.

Daughter’s friend is forbidden from attending social events

Adapted from a recent online discussion. Hi, Carolyn: My daughter, 11, has… Continue reading

Today in History: Dec. 11

Today is Monday, Dec. 11, the 345th day of 2017. There are… Continue reading

Most Read