BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
As a “consumer,” you have three broad things on offer from Midtown Global Market: It’s a place to eat and drink, it’s a place to shop and hang out, and it’s a place with numerous neighborhood-based events to attend. The eating and drinking might seem similar to that in the food court of a shopping mall, but, like the shopping offerings there, the food is a bit more eclectic than what you find at Rosedale or the Mall of America. The shopping and services are very unconventional. And as for the events, these are a little-known local resource of great value. Here’s a brief tour of what you can find in the next month or so.
In the food and drink category, there was a recent sad loss. Gone, possibly for good, is Mama D’s, an excellent Southern soul food spot that we have favorably reviewed in the past (as a former Southern girl, I raved about their iced tea—properly brewed, perfectly sweetened, tons of crushed ice, no straw—a perfect 10). Mama D’s, which opened at the Market in early spring 2018, abruptly closed “until further notice” on July 30, and also withdrew from the coveted spot to represent the Market at the Minnesota State Fair. It was a few days before the public found out the tragic reason why. Destiny Brooks, the entrepreneur founder and chef and the D in Mama D’s, had passed away after a very brief struggle with an exceptionally aggressive form of cancer. The spot there in the Market still has the sign and all the equipment, but there is no news on whether the business can carry on without her.
A popular eating and drinking spot at the Market is Hot Indian Foods. (Hot Indian stepped in to cover Mama D’s State Fair booth this past August, by the way.) Living in South Minneapolis, you might be familiar with Mexican places that sell Mexican sodas such as Mexican Coke, and many flavors of Jarritos. You may have even come to seek them out yourself, despite not being Mexican. (Of course, if you are Mexican, you know this and more.) But it turns out the Indian diaspora, too, has beloved sodas that follow them when they emigrate, and Hot Indian is a place to get them. Thums Up Cola, Limca (a citrus soda), and Frooti, a boxed sweetened mango drink, are among the Indian sodas available to go with your Indi Tacos or Indurritos, Indian takes on Mexican favorites. They also have more traditional Indian food, such as rice bowls and samosas.
In the shopping and services category, there do not appear to be any recent arrivals or departures. We have been visiting the Art Shoppe on several occasions, because their stock turns over fairly often. It’s run and staffed by a collective of around 70 midtown Minneapolis artists. Its mission, according to their website, “is to provide a viable business place for local Minnesota artists to display and sell their work, gain business and marketing skills, and mentor and empower each other to increase artists’ exposure and income. We promote opportunities for a diverse community of artists.” There is a featured artist that changes every two months, and the artist for September and October is Andrea Martin. She’s a former biology researcher who makes intricate portrayals of local nature using black paper cutouts glued onto colored backgrounds, and based on photographs. The Art Shoppe is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s a great place to find unique gifts, or items to spark the decor in your own domicile or office.
Finally, the events. There are some great events coming up in October and November. Recurring themes for events include Wee Wednesdays (10:30 a.m.), Neighborhood Night on Thursday evenings, and Family Friday, also in the evening. Also, some of the partner organizations present educational-type events, often with a snack or meal accompaniment. And then the “Global” part of the Market is enhanced by celebrating holidays and traditions from many cultures. In that vein, the Market will be celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. This will include a variety of Indian vendors, dancing, a Kids Talent Exhibition, “lighting of the glow sticks” along with traditional storytelling of the origin of Diwali, dining specials at Hot Indian and children’s crafts. What is Diwali exactly? The MGM website says: “Originating in India, this holiday is an expression of happiness and the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. The celebration … traditionally lasts five days… Candles and clay lamps called diyas are lit and placed on roofs, around front doors and in windows of homes symbolizing positive life and being thankful for health, wealth, knowledge and fame.”
The next Wee Wednesday coming up is Oct. 9, and features the popular Roe Family Singers in the central court at 10:30 a.m. On Oct. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Neighborhood Night presents In the Heart of the Beast’s Esther Ouray and Julie Boada with “On the Day You Were Born,” one of the company’s most popular puppet shows for kids of all ages. The free show is followed by a “make-and-take” at 6:30. On Oct. 24, same times, see “Lupita Doesn’t Want to Sleep,” with Julie again, this time accompanied by partner Gustavo Boada. On Nov. 14, it’s “Coyote Stories” with Julie Boada performing solo (except for the puppets).
The first Thursday of each month sees the Backyard Community Health Hub’s Dialogue on Diabetes (Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m.) featuring food and dialogue to answer your questions about diabetes—controlling it or preventing it. Other wellness events include a cardio dialogue program mid-month, Zumba, yoga, and Salsa, among other exercise programs, and many more, which you can access at midtownglobalmarket.org/events. And finally, this month features the famous MGM Global Chili Cook-off competition on Saturday, Oct. 26, from noon to 2 p.m. in the central court. In this competition, chefs and cooks from the Market compete on stage, creating chili with various global influences. Audience members may partake for a suggested $5 donation, which goes to a food charity.