Imagine Chef Mario Batali as a zombie, his abdomen split open, guts and spaghetti spilling out, stuffing his face with the contents of his own disembowelment. This and many other gruesome sights treated those who attended the final SoWa Open Market of the fall season on Sunday, Oct. 30.
SoWa is the trendy gallery neighborhood of Boston’s South End, bordered by Massachusetts Ave., East Berkeley St., Albany St., and Washington St. The name is modeled after the SoHo district in New York, which refers to the area “South of Houston Street.” SoWa is short for “South of Washington Street.”
Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures and the overnight snow, large crowds came out, warmed by the bright sunshine and by the immersive Halloween experience. Advertised as the “Market of the Living Dead,” dozens of merchandise and food vendors were ghoulishly costumed to play their part. Even some of the food helped to create a spooky atmosphere, with artisan cupcakes decorated with realistic eyeballs.
Located in the parking lots on either side of the SoWa Building at 450 Harrison St., the market is in its eighth year, running from the beginning of May until the end of October. Typically, the market includes around 90 vendor tents, offering arts, crafts, and indie design merchandise. There is also the outdoor farmer’s market, offering regionally-grown produce and specialty foods, and the vintage market, located on the first floor of the SoWa Building, offering antiques, collectibles, and vintage merchandise.
The bitter, snowy overnight weather reduced the number of vendors on this final Sunday of the market. “I think a lot of vendors were affected who live out west,” said Chris Masci, 44, founder and manager of the market, who darted around costumed in an enormous pumpkin head and a black flowing cape. “There should have been 120 vendors outside. We only have 40. A lot were affected by the snow.”
Central to the SoWa Open Market experience are the food trucks stationed throughout the market area, offering a vast selection of culinary delights, from gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to falafel pockets to decadent baked goods.
The Clover food truck was manned by several staffers in bloodied lab coats and facemasks. The truck serves a very popular falafel pocket. Tsvi K., 40, who is from Israel, where falafel is a staple of the daily diet, gave his positive review: “Very authentic. Well, except for the pita, because you can’t get good pitas in the U.S. The falafel patty itself was good. They put hummus in it, which was good. And, they put pickled vegetables in it, which was actually very good and authentic.”
The Cupcakory truck was transformed for the day into the Butchory truck, which, in spite of its altered name, still served many varieties of yummy cupcakes.
The highlight of the afternoon’s festivities was the costume contest. Several dozen competitors in all manner of bizarre dress vied for the top contest slots: the secretary strangled by her boss, the little boy dressed like ramen noodles, the man with a pumpkin growing from his face like a gigantic tumor. For the third year in a row, Tim Dwyer, 28, of Boston, won the contest and the $250 prize, gruesomely made up as Zombie Chef Mario Batali. Laughing at himself, Dwyer said, “It’s a lot of fun to dress up and to come out here. Me and my girlfriend have done it the past three years together.”
For more information about the SoWa Open Market, including becoming a participating vendor, visit: http://www.sowaopenmarket.com/ and http://sowasundays.com/. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SoWa-Open-Market/66364906019