A Day In the Week

For the past five years, I have been waking up early on Saturday mornings to sell my soups and curries at the Farmers’ market on the Portland State University Campus.  Each week two alarms wake me for what is a long, often grueling, but always enjoyable day. Twelve weeks each year I get to sleep in, but for nine months my weekends are consumed by the market. Here is a little glimpse of what a typical day looks like for me.

Zuppa5:20am – Yikes!!  Even after the few times I have actually managed to get to bed at a decent time, this is still a shock. In the winter when it’s cold and dark and I have a warm dog asleep at my feet it’s almost impossible to rouse myself,  yet somehow I always manage to wake up and after that first cup of coffee, it's really not that bad.


5:40am – Coffee brewing in French press, dog fed and if there’s a game on I try and watch a British soccer match on my computer.   Playing and watching soccer are two of my favorite things to do. 



6:10am – In the van and off to Cash and Carry to buy ice.  In the heat of the summer I may buy ten bags, but now it’s colder I can make do with two or three.  All of the employees at Cash and Carry greet me by name. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing though.




6:30 am - I Arrive in the kitchen and load up the van.  I share a kitchen in Northwest Portland with several other small business owners and the kitchen is already busy with activity by the time I arrive.  Cinnamon rolls are being baked in a giant convection oven and authentic Indian Chai is simmering on a stove. I fill my van with soups cooked the day before, cookies, hot apple cider and plastic tubs filled with cheese and bread.



7:15 am - I Arrive at the market and begin to set up the booth.  Many of the farmers are here by 6 to start putting out their produce. My helper and I set up the tent and stoves first and start boiling water for oatmeal. By 8am we are almost set up and have a few moments to catch our breath and drink yet another cup of coffee.



8:30 am The opening bell for the market is rung and the first shoppers begin to arrive.  I take this time to walk around the market and pick up food for Zuppa from other vendors: lamb from Sudan Farm, butter from Rogue Creamery, produce from Gathering Together Farm and apple cider from Draper Girls Farm.Zuppa



9:30 am – The market begins to slowly fill up with people and oatmeal sales start to pick up.  Mornings are usually pretty slow for us.  Most of our sales are during lunch, but  by 11 we are usually quite busy and the griddle is packed up with grilled cheese sandwiches.









11:30 am - The lunch rush is on and for the next several hours our bodies will be spinning as we flip grilled cheeses, pour lemonades and hot cider drinks, ladle hot soup Zuppaintobowls and replenish supplies of cups, spoons, napkins, cranberry chutney, cilantro, mint relish, and then as the day goes on into the coolers to bring out reserve gallons of chicken curry, dal and lamb stew. 















2:00 pm - Finally a chance to catch our breath and if we're lucky, grab a bite to eat from the other vendors.  If everyone is sold out then and we have soup left then we become our last customers of the day.   Time to break down the booth and head back to the kitchen.



3:00 pm -  I spend the next hour cleaning pots and unloading unused food back into the walk-in fridge.  On hot days I may linger in the fridge for a few moments and enjoy the 41 degree air conditioning.


4:00pm - Back home at my house. In the summer chances are I'll grab a cold beer from my fridge, but now the days are colder, I may celebrate a day's hard work by soaking in the bath and relish the the prospect of a long, long sleep.