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11 May 2018 / leggypeggy

Cannery Row and more food

Cannery Row Monument

The Cannery Row Monument was dedicated in 2014. Sculptures by Steven Whyte

Our tour of national parks doesn’t start until tomorrow, but that hasn’t kept us from sightseeing in northern California. We’ve had the good fortune to stay with our friends, Nona and Brad, in Mountain View, south of San Francisco.

They love their slice of California and were keen to show us a couple of special spots we didn’t see the last time we visited them in 2009. Top of the list was Cannery Row in Monterey, almost 90 miles farther south. Another must-see was a roadside market that carries great artichokes when they are in season (like now).

California roadside market

Nona and I are both food nuts—we met many years ago through a cookery website—so it’s not surprising that our two stops would be food related.

The market was first. I was delighted to see the wonderful range of produce—including the humorously named Shit items—and was especially impressed by the low prices.

Australians, are you ready for this? Two bags of carrots for $1, 10 artichokes for $1, three bunches of cilantro (coriander) for $1 and most chillies for $1.49 a pound. That makes the chillies just over $3 a kilo, which is incredible compared to the $18–$20 we sometimes pay in Australia. Strawberries were cheap and huge—two together were about the size of my fist.

We showed a little restraint and bought artichokes, strawberries and asparagus.

Cannery Row, Monterey California

Then it was off to Monterey and the Cannery Row made famous in John Steinbeck’s classic novel, published in 1945.

It’s been years since I read the book. It’s set in Monterey during the Great Depression, on a street lined with sardine canneries. The story revolves around the people living there: Lee Chong, the local grocer; Doc, a marine biologist; and Mack, the leader of a group of derelicts. Steinbeck revisited the characters and location in 1954 in his novel, Sweet Thursday.

Cannery Row was originally called Ocean View Avenue, but was later renamed in honour of the book.

The Cannery Row monument
A large sculpture sits in a small park by the sea and commemorates Steinbeck and some of the people important to the history of Cannery Row.

Steinbeck sits at the top (sometimes with a seagull on his head). At the base is his good friend, Ed Ricketts, a father of marine biology who studied tide pools and sea life in Monterey Bay. Other figures represent Chinese fishermen, two ‘madams’ of the day and a group of entrepreneurs who helped to create Cannery Row as a tourist destination.

Steven Whyte made the sculptures. Closer views of Steinbeck (right) and Ricketts are below.

P.S. Along with some pizzas, we demolished the artichokes, asparagus and strawberries for dinner.

Monterey Canning Company

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck

Ed Ricketts

Ed Ricketts


Leave a Comment
  1. Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE / May 11 2018 9:51 am

    Isn’t Monterey beautiful? I hope you get to drive down the Pacific coast highway. The views are stunning!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 9:58 am

      Monterey is very beautiful. Don’t think we’ll be able to do the Pacific Coast highway this trip, but I’ll note it for the future. Thanks for the tip.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Catnip Blog / May 11 2018 10:08 am

    From the pictures it looks like you had good weather. Monterey and the SF Area is beautiful when the sky is clear . . . not so much when over-cast though.


    The Pacific Coast may or may not be open all the way – not sure if they have finished the highway reconstruction after the last rain and mud-slides?

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 1:48 pm

      We’ve had fantastic weather. Not sure that our tour includes the Pacific Coast road, so am not expecting it.


  3. Vicki / May 11 2018 10:22 am

    Aren’t those food prices amazing. Being a foodie myself, or I was until I had to quit working 8 years ago and live on a frugal pension, food is always uppermost in my mind. Now I only buy the most basic essentials to stay healthy, plus nuts and seeds. Forget my row of cookery books gathering dust.

    I compared Aussie food costs with an American friend and she was shocked at the ridiculous prices of our food. The trouble is I’m a fussy shopper and like the best and freshest. No buying overripe produce at cheap prices – usually throwing half away before I can eat it (as I’ve found in the past).

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 1:50 pm

      To be fair, I’ve quoted prices for the cheapest items. Asparagus was $2.50 a bunch and it’s spring here. So not everything is so cheap.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Monica Graff / May 11 2018 10:36 am

    Wow, those are some seriously unbelievable prices! And I’m sure the produce was fresh and delicious. Enjoy the rest of your visit!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 1:50 pm

      Thanks Monica. The produce was excellent, and we’re having a great time.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Washe Koda / May 11 2018 11:52 am

    Good produce is good 🙂 In the US Iv’e been leery the past 40+yrs with salmonella & e coli that the retailers are trying to feed us!!! 😳

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Andrew Petcher / May 11 2018 3:13 pm

    Good post, good statue. Not quite sure how those prices compare with UK.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gerard oosterman / May 11 2018 3:33 pm

    We, in Sydney, had carrots and onions at Aldi at $ 1- a kilo. Bananas at 1.79 a kilo. If the dole is $ 40.- a day… one could for a short time try and live of those items. However, if rent is $ 250.- a week , even then it would not be enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 10:57 pm

      You’re right Gerard, rent blows it all out of the water.


  8. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / May 11 2018 3:50 pm

    You seem to be enjoying your trip so far. Have fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pvcann / May 11 2018 4:59 pm

    Hanging with the greats I see! What a slice of history to stand with, and the summer tones of light are looking good too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. beetleypete / May 11 2018 5:12 pm

    I enjoyed that book as a teenager, and it must be nice to see the location.
    The vegetables look huge, and quite cheap too. Carrots are about £1 a kilo here, and Asparagus two bunches for £4. But the size of that American produce appears to make it a better bargain.
    Enjoy the next stage of your trip, Peggy.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 10:59 pm

      Thanks Pete. I’m guessing those rock-bottom prices are due, at least partially, to it being a roadside market.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. derrickjknight / May 11 2018 6:05 pm

    A fascinating monument

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 11 2018 6:17 pm

    You’ve started your US tour in a beautiful city. The food prices are unusually low – artichokes down here (Southern California) are usually around $1.50 – $3.00 each, and our strawberries are not that big. You’ve gotten to shop at a great market – enjoy. If you’re still in the area, be sure to walk along the coast for a bit – just gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 11:01 pm

      We did have a little walk in Monterey. We’ll have another chance at the end of June when we are in Los Angeles. I have friends in Cypress and Huntington Beach. Where are you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 12 2018 1:58 am

        Lake Forest, toward southern end of Orange County, between Irvine and Mission Viejo.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 12 2018 1:59 am

        I’m going to look this up and see if we’ll be anywhere nearby.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Emma Cownie / May 11 2018 8:23 pm

    I enjoyed reading John Steinbeck’s book a while back and the statue/monument looks really good – I especially like the seagull on top!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. lmo58 / May 11 2018 8:45 pm

    Gee Peggy! With prices like those everyone could afford to eat well; at least in that particular area. But it still won’t work for all the poor souls on Newstart who have to eat, pay rent and fulfil very stringent JobSearch criteria. The Budget failed them again. Lovely to see that you’re having such a good time already. I’m going to start charging for my predictions. I foresaw great writing and photos and here we are with great writing and photos from the very first post. Who’d a thunk it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2018 11:03 pm

      Haven’t had a chance to study the budget closely, but I know one aspect will adversely affect us. Will research more when we get home.


  15. WidgersWonderings / May 12 2018 12:20 am

    There was an older movie Cannery Row with Nick Nolte in the early 80’s. I used to love that movie, but I haven’t seen it in awhile. Love some good, fresh produce. Great prices!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 12 2018 1:54 am

      I remember that movie. Did you know that Nick Nolte is from Nebraska?


      • Robert Parker / May 12 2018 2:47 am

        I read the book, and then rented that movie, and really liked it – -having John Huston as the narrator helped make it cool.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 12 2018 3:50 am

        I’ll have to see the movie when I get home.


  16. susan@onesmallwalk / May 12 2018 12:44 am

    Roadside stands are such fun, and having a knowledgeable guide helps you pick the right one, doesn’t it? Hope you enjoy the National Parks.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Laurie Decker / May 12 2018 2:31 am

    Wonderful prices on the produce! You’re here at the right time when everything you bought is in season. Produce is less for us here in California but dairy and meat is higher than in many parts of the U.S.. Have a wonderful time on your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 12 2018 3:45 am

      Thanks Laurie. You’re right. We were buying things in season. Quality was excellent.


  18. Embeecee / May 12 2018 2:39 am

    WOWZA! Now I have a destination in mind if I ever can travel again. One of my all time favorite books “Cannery Row”; and now I know there’s a sort of ‘sequel’ which I’m off to Amazon to see if I can purchase. Thank you so much Peggy!! What an amazing place!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 12 2018 3:46 am

      You are most welcome, Embeecee. I haven’t read the sequel but plan to do so when we get home.


  19. Robert Parker / May 12 2018 2:48 am

    This place looks like a real kick, and love the monument, so much nicer than just having another guy standing on a pedestal staring into space.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 12 2018 3:47 am

      You’re absolutely right. So much better than a statue just standing there. Shows a lot of flair.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Brian Lageose / May 12 2018 2:11 pm

    Are you EVER going to go somewhere that is not fascinating?… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  21. paolsoren / May 12 2018 9:43 pm

    I don’t have a favourite Steinbeck novel. But Cannery row is a front runner. Thanks so much for the photos of the monument.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Miss A / May 12 2018 10:56 pm

    It seems I’m not the only one that thinks it’s exciting to go in to different grocery stores when I’m traveling. I still find new places here in Dubai and just go roaming around looking at food. Don’t mind cooking it either 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 15 2018 11:55 am

      I’m a grocery store junkie. Luckily, Poor John indulges my addiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Curt Mekemson / May 13 2018 3:05 am

    I head down to that neck of the woods quite often, Peggy. My first visits were in the 50s when my grandparents lived in Watsonville. I missed the 60s, other than my first honeymoon, which was in Monterrey in 1965, but came back often in the 70s. I used to drive down in my VW van and camp out along the road just south of Carmel. I’ve been back often since. Great Steinbeck museum in Salinas. Think of me when you hit Yosemite. My thousand mile trek will take me through there this summer. If you make it up to Tuolumne Meadows, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through there. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 15 2018 11:57 am

      Oh Curt, we’ve just finished in Yosemite. It’s my second time there and both visits were totally gobsmackingly amazing. We got near Tuolumne Meadows.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. a mindful traveler / May 13 2018 11:29 am

    Great market, I would have headed there first too. Enjoy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Osyth / May 15 2018 1:36 am

    I love Steinbeck. I also love those spice names though I am unsure whether I could bring myself to sprinkle them on my food 🤢 even at that price!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Lynz Real Cooking / May 15 2018 9:17 am

    Very nice Peggy! Have fun

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Chris Riley / May 15 2018 2:01 pm

    I’ve know I’ve read Cannery Row, but can’t remember anything about it. Loved that statue, and the humorously labelled produce. We have some, ‘Shit the Bed’ chilli sauce in our cupboard. It’s wonderful for visitors who claim nothing is to hot for them. A smidge usually has them re-thinking….. a dollop and they know they should have listened to the hosts advice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 15 2018 11:04 pm

      Oh Chris, that’s priceless. Where on earth did you buy ‘Shit the Bed’?


  28. efge63 / May 16 2018 2:33 pm

    Good morning !!!!!!!!!!! Wonderful to travel with you!!! Have fun !!!

    Send you my love !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. jeanleesworld / May 17 2018 8:46 pm

    That collection of statues is just really, really cool. Glad the seagull got to pose! 🙂 Hope the excursions into food and nature continue to be awesome. And safe! Be safe, Friend! 🙂 xxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 18 2018 3:00 pm

      Thanks Jean. This trip has been a whirlwind with very little internet. Hope to post some news tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Jen Biggs / Jun 6 2018 9:07 am

    Who needs history class when you can read your blogs? LOVE this stuff

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 6 2018 11:35 am

      Thanks so much. I really appreciate comments like this.


  31. celebrateharder / Jun 28 2018 5:01 am

    Wow! Looks Awesome. Love Cali. ❤️ DATL. innerStrength

    Liked by 2 people

  32. actilabmama / Jul 17 2018 11:03 am

    wow this is a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. barkinginthedark / Oct 10 2018 10:58 am

    i dunno about the provenance of those huge strawberries…frankenberries? continue…

    Liked by 1 person

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