Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Chance Encounter with Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace

Worcester, an obscure place that didn't even earn an honorary spot along the Mass Pike. A place I was thrown into in the midst of winter without proper insulating attire. Just off the boat, so to speak, directly from Israel, I slowly came to respect and grow to take joy in it. As we scooted hurriedly out of town I had to make those last pit stops for lunch. I am shaking off images of this dreary town and want to dig deeper into the charmed every day life. A pocket of working and middle class college town out in central MA, a mere hour west of Boston.
I thought it was a chance encounter but Jonathan knew it existed. He'd been there before recently with his father. We completely missed it the first time around and circled around the block once again before pulling into a parking spot facing a brick side wall. A couple windows and a little staff door carved there beneath the brick, I almost entered through it right into the space just behind the counter. It's the oldest standing firehouse in Worcester, built in 1873, and the building still houses its fire pole, a relic, in between one of its narrow aisles.
In the back room, a charming man, Ed, the owner of Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace, and his apprentice, sorting through mounds and mounds of fresh vibrant basil leaves laid in every corner and counter space. Snapping the leaves from their stems to make a basil mint and olive oil rub for their lamb kebobs. I found him and his Marketplace ever so enchanting but don't believe me just watch the Worcester Love video.
Ed said on any other given day I would have run into his son who manages the place. I'm sure the apple didn't fall far from the tree but so happy for my faithful encounter with the deep rooted older generation. Ed, born in 1950, a son to a father born in Uthica, NY and a mother born in Worcester, MA both of Lebanese roots. Ed worked in the business with his father and uncles since the young age of 10, realized early on there were only two things he knew how to do best. One was how to be a grocer and the other was how to be a drummer and to this day he still is doing both. I was enamored with this slice of Americana.
Two towering elderly men blocking the entry way were speaking in what seemed Greek to me, literally, not figuratively speaking. It might have been Armenian for all I know, I really wouldn't be able to tell  the difference, so it might be figuratively after all. They were leisurely speaking in a low relaxed tone, but not in whispers, as I was trying not to invade their space and privacy. While they were shooting the breeze, I was snapping photos with my new toy, the iPhone. 
Ed reminiscing with an incredible historic account of his ancestry in Lebanon going back before the 1600s. He also told me about the three Armenian, three Lebanese and one Albanian church among the many Irish and other places of worship in Worcester and how some of them evolved. 
One of his two daughters had been to Israel and he asked if the Armenian Christian community in Israel is still thriving, and I responded, of course. I still have the Armenian hand painted tiles from Jerusalem, waiting to be laid during our, yet unscheduled, home renovation. Worcester, place full of history, food and culture. I hope that next time we are in town during one of the churches bazaars.The place might be gray, especially in the winter, but it's people and stories never fade into the background. Small town, large town, small city America. Larger than life.
I also came across a wonderful photo of him and his son, published in an article in The Worcester Telegram 'When dad is boss', while searching for Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace address. It exudes the personality I encountered. You can also read the feature in Worcester Magazine here and Perfect Pantry's post here with additional interesting details. When I called to double check on a couple of details before publishing this post, it turns out Ed knows my FIL Ron. He's been a long time customer.
I ordered  for our takeaway lunch the creamiest hummus, pita, stuffed grape leaves, tabouleh and Kadaeif among other delicious foods to keep us happy and content along the dreaded long drive back to the DC area. If I lived in Worcester I would stock my fridge with Ed's multiple feta cheeses and olives, and my pantry, with the abundance of beans, grains and spices. Come to think of it, he must have had cracked wheat that I cannot manage to find in a couple of stores I checked around here.
The Marketplace has two tabouleh versions, the traditional Lebanese one and the other Armenian, a red version with tomato sauce I believe. Though not Ed's tabouleh recipe, I was inspired to make tabouleh once I got back home but I will share the recipe in a separate post.
All photos were taken by me with my new iPhone and processed through Instagram. First time experience for me with both.

42 comments :

  1. I totally love taking pictures with my iPhone and it works really well on my blog posts too. It's great on days when you don't feel like carrying an extra load on your shoulders.

    Try your hands on Hipstamatic too. That's my go-to camera app whenever I shoot with my iPhone.

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    1. TY. It was such a fun experiment. First attempt at lunch at a Japanese restaurant just a day prior went awry!:) So I was happy it worked the next day. TY for Hipstamatic recommendation I will download or have Jonathan do it for me when he gets home. Checked it out it looks fabulous!

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  2. I love this post, it sounds like you had a fabulous time and what a wonderful shop!

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    1. Quite a gem TY Wendy. Yep & surprisingly good weather too. Upper 50s.

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  3. This place looks marvelous! Thanks for sharing this gem!

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    1. You welcome Bri. Well worth the hour trip to stock up. Five or so different fetas & dirt cheap prices we could never get here in DC and I bet Boston too.

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  4. I adore Ed Hyder's. We go there every time we're anywhere near Worcester. Absolutely worth a detour.

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    1. I linked to your post! :) Happened to bump into it when googled for Hyder's Marketplace address.:)

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  5. What a wonderful story, and great job with your new i phone and instagram!

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    1. TY. I was having so much fun. Unfortunately J was in the car with the dog.

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  6. Great use of the Iphone and loved reading this post. Thanks for sharing Shulie!

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    1. TY Fifi. Loved writing it. Sat on it all day yesterday so I am behind catching up after the few days break.

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  7. I've never heard of Ed Hyder but I have lots of rellies in Worcester and used to visit them when I was a kid and lived in Maine. I'm reeling at the culture shock of Israel to Worcester! wow I love that shop!

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    1. TY Maureen. It is relic from a bygone era. So happy you liked it and that it is still there. So interesting you got relatives in Worcester. J's parents still love there.

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  8. A great place I'd love to visit!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. TY Rosa. I bet you got some gems over there in Europe!! It's been too long since we ventured. Hopefully this summer.

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  9. Loved reading this post..glad that you had a great time! Hugs.

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    1. TY Sanjeeta. I had so much fun and enthusiasm for writing this post. As you know it is not often I write this sort of articles.:) Glad you enjoyed it.

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  10. Hi Shulie, what an adventure a visit to this store brings. Thank you for sharing and hello from down under!

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    1. Hello there,TY. I bet there are so many gems down under. I just take pleasure in the little things in life! :)

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  11. I see that you took full advantage of Instagram. Great job and what a nice find.

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    1. TY Wabbit for the encouragement to download Instagram. & thx for support. Shop is awesome! :)

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  12. enjoyed reading this post...interesting !

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  14. I love visiting places like this marketplace. Thank you for sharing your visit - it's as if I was walking through the store with you!

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    1. I know, right?! TY Jeanette. Aren't these places just precious?! :)

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  15. You were SO close and I didn't even know it. Hope you had a safe ride home! :)

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  16. We did luck out either way. No traffic. Still a long drive. & what you mean? I always think you live far even when I am in Worcester, Amherst or Boston silly girl. You should have said something. I was tweeting from the road. Next time? :)

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  17. Great article, Shulie! Hope we get to meet up sometime on my stomping grounds :)

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    1. TY Cara. So many gems in Worcester. I messed up my entire batch of iPhone photos from Baba. Thank you so much for the recos. BTW ie falafel, when in NYC go to Taim falafel. Soooo good!

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  18. I love this post Shulie. It reminds me of the Middle Eastern Market I visit every week by my house:)The iphone photos are super! Now I am craving pita, labne, olives and falafel:)

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    1. TY so much Lora. Your support today meant the world!! You should totally feature the market by you!! :) Having much fun with my iPhone though I suspect I won't be posting tons from it here.:

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  19. What a fabulous adventure! I love this sort of family owned market, full of delicious food, tradition and pride. Lovely to read your experience see your photos...almost like being there myself :)

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  20. Looks like real gem of a market!Hidden treasures waiting to be discovered!Great article and great pics as well :)Enjoy your iPhone!Happy Saturday :)

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  21. Now this is the of place I'd visit and lose track of time in. Lovely!

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  22. I could get lost in a place like this. Beautiful post, and thanks for sharing!

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  23. As you bring out in your article and photos, Shulie, Hyder's is a rare and special place. As soon as you open the door, the Old World spice aromas envelop you and lift your spirits. The atmosphere is a positive throw back to the past. We regularly go there for the Ed Hyder's grape leaves, hummus, bulgur, dried spices, pita, and kabobs.
    Ed publishes an online newsletter you can sign up for. [Years ago, one of his daughters was a delightful, caring student in one of my English classes.]
    Great article, Shulie!
    Deena

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  24. What a great post. Looks like an awesome spot. I am always trying to find new specialty markets in the Boston area. I may have to make the trip to this one !

    : ))
    Jen

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  25. I lived a good chunk of my life in Worcester, and Ed's place is a great spot to find things you can't find anywhere else. I'm so excited that you gave him this notice.

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  26. I am so behind with the times, this is so embarrassing! What a beautiful find, Shulie! I love trips that take me to this kind of culinary/cultural surprise!

    Thank you for sharing!

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  27. Oh my..what a lovely place! I can live in that store! Nice post!:)

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