Cleveland Heights resident co-authors book for West Side Market's 100th anniversary
This year, Cleveland’s West Side Market celebrates its 100-year anniversary. To mark the occasion, Cleveland Heights resident Laura Taxel, along with Lakewood native and Vermilion resident Marilou Suszko, co-authored a book about the market’s history.
The book, Cleveland’s West Side Market: 100 Years and Still Cooking, published by University of Akron press, is available in local bookstores. Taxel will participate in a Cleveland history discussion and book signing at Mac's Backs at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18. She will also sign books at an event hosted by Appletree Books at Nighttown from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21.
The book “really tells history of this important local landmark,” said Taxel, and “shows that the West Side Market is alive, busy and active today, not just a thing of past.”
Taxel has been writing about food for more than 30 years. Her most well-known book, Cleveland Ethnic Eats, was first published in 1995 and has been updated several times, most recently in 2009. She had never before written a book with Suszko, whom she met at conference for food professionals in Baltimore about ten years ago, but they have worked together on a magazine called Feast. Suszko, the author of The Locavore's Kitchen: A Cook's Guide to Seasonal Eating and Preserving and Farm and Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate, approached Taxel in 2009 about the possibility of collaborating on a book about the West Side Market, to commemorate its 100th anniversary. Taxel, who has shopped at the market since 1971, knew right away that she wanted to do it.
Taxel and Suszko interviewed more than 300 people, including vendors from past and present, employees and their families, shoppers, historians and politicians. They talked to market vendors and patrons at the market cafe; by phone, and in their homes. When word of the project spread, people sent in their stories via letters and e-mails to Taxel and Suszko. Some who had moved away from the Cleveland area heard about the project from friends who still live here, and said that hearing about the book made them miss the market and want to go back, according to Taxel.
Taxel’s husband, Barney, took photos for the book. Barney Taxel, a commercial photographer, specializes in food, but also has experience with people, architecture and still life.
“I like the energy and interaction with people at the West Side Market, and the variety of foods and variety of people who sell it, and can share their knowledge and expertise,” said Taxel. She learns something every time she goes to the Market and is now friends with many people she met there.
“The book has something for everyone—it has all the historical facts, including many that people wouldn’t know, and is full of wonderful, heartwarming personal stories from people who have worked there or shopped there,” said Taxel.
Simone Quartell, a Heights High graduate, is a student at Cleveland State University and a Heights Observer intern.