After the orgy of capitalist spending in my last post, I went to the local Farmer’s Market for the first time this season. Old friends said hello, and we exchanged stories of surviving the harsh, harsh winter, which now seems a blur of sleet and snow. I picked up a Thai basil simply because it’s scent was transportive, and later some kale and sugar snaps. Focaccia and biscotti, and a brownie because I was told no one was buying any oddly enough, and the situation seemed dire. As I was leaving, one favorite vendor called me over, and as if she were passing a secret code, handed me a small head of lettuce. Add olive oil and and salt, she said, and you can have it for lunch. I did, tossing in a little torn focaccia and Parmesan. Delicious.
On a marvelous gardening blog, I recently won a cookbook by lottery and answering a question on how my cooking has changed since I first used Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook. I wrote I shopped for organic produce, which is true, but I also shop at Farmers’ Markets. In my town, the Farmers’ Market is under fire because they occupy a parking lot adjacent to a candy shop for five hours once a week, for about five months. The candy shop, open year-round, in regular candy shop hours, is across the street from another candy shop. There are at least two more such fudge shops in town. We only have one farmers’ market, a Saturday bounty of two or three vegetable stands; one bakery stand; an essential oils lotions and potions stand; a meat and egg stand; a fish place; an olive oil and goat cheese place; a fresh mozzarella and burrata place; and a local sea salt stand. As the season winds down, it just a few vegetable farmers, the baker, and salt and oils. We have one large chain grocery store in town, and three year-round small markets. There is talk that a Whole Foods might open in a year or so, in Hyannis, which is an hour away. Right now, we have a seasonal farmer’s market in a great location in the heart of town, where you can stroll into by foot, or bike or walk to gather provisions, chat with regulars, and leave with a full and contented heart.
When I first lived on the Cape, there was only a supermarket, a natural foods store, and a little store where I could walk to buy broccoli, carrots, and onion and potatoes. I ate pasta nearly every night, or made grilled cheese. With supplies imported from New Jersey, I could make a rare Indian curried dish. I used moosewood extensively with the ingredients at hand. I was lucky to be able to buy tofu.
A farmers’ market is such a joy,and necessity. Taste test a farm apple and a store-bought. Try an organic golden delicious. Never pass up an opportunity to try watermelon radish. Here are farmers making a livelihood of sorts, carting their goods from an hour and more away to sell fresh tomatoes, eggplant, okra, basil. They share recipes and stories. I would not live in this town if there was not a market. I still make pasta and grilled cheese, only with better ingredients, making them so much better.