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Soulard Spice Shop

Submitted by on December 3, 2010 – 12:13 amNo Comment

By Susan McKee
The Road Trips Foodie

Foodies traveling through St. Louis, Missouri, should take a sidetrip to the Soulard Market, which claims title as the oldest farmers’ market west of the Mississippi River. It’s open Wednesdays through Sundays year ’round in the historic Soulard neighborhood just south of downtown at 730 Carroll Street.

It’s named for a St. Louisan of French descent, Julia Cerre Soulard, who donated the land specifically for use as a marketplace in 1838. The first structure was built on the site in 1843 by a private joint venture of farmers and vendors, who sold shares to build a one-story red brick building on the eastern of the two half blocks.

I was there rather late in the morning on a cold November day this fall, but there were still few vendors set up. It was worth a stop, though, to see Arkansas Blacks — a type of apple I’ve not come across before. A rare variety, it’s grown in fewer than 5% of the orchards in its native state. I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not buying any.

That, and I wanted to stop at the Soulard Spice Shop (also known as the Schmitz Spice Shop).

The first Spice Shop was opened by the current owner’s grandfather in 1914 about a half-block from the Soulard Market. He moved into the market in 1929, when the Grand Hall was built. These days, they sell 600-800 pounds of spices each week, and, yes, you can buy their seasonings, coffees and teas online too.

As a dedicated foodie, there’s nothing I like better than wandering around a shop packed with herbs and spices — especially when some of those herbs and spices are mixed into regional blends. The clerk offered this helpful advice about how long you can keep the seasonings in your pantry. “Open ’em and give ’em the sniff test. If you can not smell anything few inches from your nose, you certainly won’t be able to taste it in your cooking”.

(Photos by Susan McKee)

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