Cleveland food writers Marilou Suszko and Laura Taxel spent the past four years documenting the 100-year history of the West Side Market. Their 250-page book — Cleveland’s West Side Market: 100 Years and Still Cooking
— came out this week, and tells the market’s myriad stories through well-researched text, historic and contemporary photos, and hundreds of memories culled from shoppers and vendors. We recently sat down with the authors at the West Side Market Café for a chat.
One-hundred years of market operations must be hard to capture, even in 250 pages. How did you organize the story?
LT: The more time we spent in the market, the more we came to realized that there were, like, three pillars we had to build the story on. One was the place, one was the people, and one was the product. So that became the framework for how we thought about the multiple stories we wanted to tell. Then we added a chapter about the shopping experience, and a chapter we called ‘memorable moments’ that covers everything from the festivities of opening day to the politicians who have walked around here shaking hands.
MS: And within that framework, each chapter focuses on history, on nostalgia, and the personal history of the people. You’ve got a little bit of all that inside each one of the five chapters.