In Portland you'd have to wear blinders not to notice all the great foods available. Food carts here are pretty well known; there's a website devoted to them (Food Carts Portland), and they've been recently written about in the national press (Bon Appetit, Gourmet, NY Times). But one of the oldest stands I know of goes back to the early days of the Portland Farmers Market, when it took place in a parking lot under the west side of the Broadway Bridge. That's the Salumeria di Carlo stand.
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These days you'll find him at the Wednesday and Saturday Farmers markets. I prefer Wednesday: the crowds are lighter, and something about mid-week makes me think I deserve a sausage for lunch after completing the shopping.
At Carlo's you have two choices: the Spicy Italian (with fennel and chili peppers) or the Northern Italian (more delicately flavored, with coriander). I nearly always get the spicy, maybe just because I'm remembering that red chorizo grease dribbling down my arm? Your roll gets spread with spicy sweet mustard or yellow mustard (I usually opt out). The sausage is nestled into the french roll, and smothered with grilled peppers (green and red) and onions.
Actually, going back for seconds to Carlo's is like going back for thirds for me. When we first moved to Portland 22 years ago, my husband and I--through nothing but exceedingly dumb luck--ended up buying a house a few blocks from Pastaworks. They had just expanded into two storefronts on Hawthorne, and the meat counter, full of tempting sausages, was run by Fred Carlo.
Now that I'm a grown-up, most of the grease lands on the paper
So now when I go to the Wednesday market, every once in a while, I'll treat myself at the end of my shopping. One thing has changed. Since I'm not growing anymore (well, I'm not supposed to be), it's hard to consider one of these sausages a snack--I have it for lunch on a day I know dinner will be light.
The sausage always hits the spot. Back when I was a kid, a chihuahua cost 49 cents--usually a combination of my spare change and what might have been left from the shopping. Now it's $5. But I'm not complaining--that's half the price of a movie ticket. Last week I ate one alone, sitting on a park bench by the statue of Abraham Lincoln, watching my own little movie in my mind. I would have rather been eating one alongside my brother, or my daughter. But I'll settle for the memories.