Put it in your mouth: Wheelin’ and mealin’

While the farmers’ market is great in theory, the throngs of strollers, rat dogs and yuppies can be a little much to deal with, especially early in the morning. Happily, there are food stands to the rescue. The farmers’ market food stands are an entirely different crop from the familiar downtown carts, and offer some unique treats that shouldn’t be missed. The selection for hot food includes representatives from Hot Lips, Staccato Gelato and Salvador Molly’s as well as a few market exclusives, most involving organic/local/wild/seasonal/sustainable/hormone-free/college-educated ingredients.

Some of the options, like sausage sandwiches and fish and chips, make a satisfying lunch, but those who hit the market early may want to ease into the morning a little more gently. Early birds can head to the Perfect Day cart for hell-of-rad breakfast burritos. If your decision-making abilities are missing before 10 a.m., fear not – there are only two options on the menu: the “New Mexico style” vegetarian breakfast burrito ($5) and the same thing but with bacon ($5.50). The folks at Perfect Day take care with their burritos. Instead of just scrambling everything together in a mushy fashion, they prepare the potatoes and eggs separately, then wrap them together with plenty of cheese. The potatoes are extra garlicky; the eggs, scrambled with delicious green chiles, are soft and fluffy; the bacon is thick, chewy and not overly fatty. You don’t get a lot of bacon, but for 50 cents what do you expect? Many of the ingredients are organic and sustainable, and yet the fillings are adequately salted and there is no curry, tofu or nutritional yeast. Finally, somebody gets both parts of the sustainable dining equation right.

If you are more of the continental breakfast type, hit the organic coffee stand and then troll the bakery booths for a fresh pastry. Gabriel’s Bakery, suppliers of “wholesome” sandwich bread to your local natural foods store, represents with a wide selection of larger-than-life pastries. The estrella ($2), a gourmet version of Mexican pan dulce, is a big eggy roll with a smooth cream cheese glaze spewed all over the top. It also comes in chocolate and nut versions and makes a nice alternative to a danish, although it may be too rich for some. Gabriel’s also serves cinnamon rolls ($3) the size of your head.

Blue Gardenia offers littler, slightly more refined pastries and desserts. Their Mississippi HoHo ($2) seems naughty to have for breakfast, in a good way. Shaped more like a Twinkie, it is a dense, moist devil’s food cake topped with a ribbon of whipped frosting that is supposed to be marshmallow but just tastes like whipped frosting. It didn’t make me pee my pants with joy, but it sure went down easily.

If the band is tolerable, you can eat at one of the outdoor tables near the stage. The atmosphere may be a world away from a school day afternoon, but don’t forget you’re still at PSU and you can still get wifi if you want to bring your laptop. Fresh air, coffee, breakfast, lite jazz and the internet – what more could you desire on a Saturday morning?