Strolling through Eastern Market’s Shed #3 I noticed a man sitting at a plastic chair at a plastic table with an umbrella over it. It was a little peculiar, I thought, having the umbrellas over the tables indoors. The man, wearing a knit cap, was by himself eating steaming soup out of a styrofoam bowl, intermittently adding oyster crackers, obviously enjoying it.
“The Gumbo,” said the customer with a full mouth… “It’s excellent.”
My brother and I purchased a bowl of the piping hot Gumbo at the window of the white trailer set back behind the indoor patio, and began the delicate dance of battling with our spoons to get the best bites without burning the roofs of our mouths. It was the best Gumbo I’ve ever had, and I had to know more.
I left my brother with the rest of the bowl and asked one of the men working at the booth what he knew. He summoned Mark Sienkiewicz, tending two large pots of soup, who appeared in the doorway of the little white trailer.I expressed my admiration for the Gumbo and started asking questions.
Mark started the food trailer 12 years ago. It’s not like the trendy food trucks that are relatively new to the Detroit scene. There are no frills, no sweet paintjob, no catchy name. There is no hashtag. You can’t track it on Foursquare. There’s not even a sign.
“The name is actually ‘Farm Fresh’,” said Sienkiewicz, “but, no we don’t have a sign. A lot of people say that I should get one.”
Mark is 65 years old and he’s always loved to cook. He got the inspiration for his Gumbo from a trip down to New Orleans. As somebody who is a huge fan of the “Big Easy”, I can honestly say that his Gumbo rivals some of the best that I’ve had down there. His version is more of a Cajun style with a rich brown roux and includes, pork, chicken, and kielbasa sausage, as well as okra.
Farm Fresh is open six days a week when the market is up to it’s day to day business. During the week, Eastern Market is where grocery stores pick up farmer’s produce wholesale. He said that much of his customer base comes from truck drivers that routinely stop at his food stand to get something to eat in between runs. You can find Mark’s food stand right inside of Shed #3 in the entrance.
“The gumbo is big, as well as our soup of the day,” said Sienkiewicz, “and the Goulash is another favorite.”
I’d give you the Web site for the Farm Fresh Food Stand, but if they don’t have a physical sign, you can probably guess that they don’t have a Web site, and certainly aren’t hooked up to social media. Mark told me that he isn’t an Internet user.
“I never needed it before, and so I figured I can do without it now,” said Sienkiewicz.
Those are certainly words to live by, except when it comes to this Gumbo.