It is thundering today and was when I woke up. I lay in bed for twenty minutes or so, waiting to see if the alarm would go off, telling me it was time to get out of my warm bed and go to the farmers' market. I have plans to put together some rhubarb curd for cream puffs for a memorial day cookout, and the man who runs the CSA to which I subscribe let us know in advance there would be strawberries, lettuce, and asparagus (as well as multiple herbs I didn't need this week). But it was wet, in fact raining pretty hard, and thundering, and I didn't see motivation to get out of bed at 6:30. So I lay in bed, listening to the rain, and the classical music when the NPR station switched on, and only got up when the news popped up at 7. It didn't seem to be getting better so I wrote a card for my mother (whom I try to write at least every other day) and got dressed, getting to the market about half past the hour. Much to my surprise there were about 12 or 13 booths with rather wet but generally cheerful sellers. Today in addition to the above items there were lots of plants, radishes, eggs, and the usual home-made Amish noodles (best ever!), baked goods, pork, and beef. I got other greens and green onions as well as cilantro and dill (I am going to make the chard cakes in Ottolenghi's Jerusalem this week, I promise!). I ordered a quart jar of Kimchee, which has to be done sub rosa because it isn't properly canned, I guess, and so they can't sell it at the market (I will pick it up next week).
In my small town the farmers' market is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, and anyone can come and set up and sell anything including crafts and kettle corn and baked goods as well as produce for $5 per booth per week, so people come when they have things to sell and don't when they don't. The market runs from the beginning of May to the end of October, and the farmers have figured out there is a market for produce and animal products through the year and there are CSAs available through the winter months for eggs, meat, and even some limited vegetables and fruit. I know some of the sellers are hoping to set up an off-season market which would be open at least one day a month, and we have talked about appropriate locations (the armory is the current preferred candidate).
(more below the curlicue)
I like supporting local producers and buying local produce. This is for all the locavore reasons -- the food is fresher, with more flavor, and doesn't have as great a footprint on the earth (I am particularly fond of the pork I buy from a particular producer and the fact that I can order special cuts from him including the fresh pork leg I had for my Christmas feast, one of the last fragments of which was defrosted for dinner last night, and his pork ribs are the best meat I can ever remember eating; the meat itself is that good! and my cooking just has the job of not ruining it!).
Most of the produce I buy is from organic growers and much comes from people I know outside of the market including friends and colleagues and families of colleagues. In my parents' home town the market is much bigger and has greater variety, and it is wonderful to visit, but the small town feeling, the cheery people huddled under each others' tents or in their trucks in the downpour, and the delicious produce I can buy, all make this a very satisfying experience every Saturday.
I often get up, go downtown, and then come home to have breakfast and go back to sleep. This morning I had a frozen waffle with a bit of maple syrup and nearly a cup of fresh-picked strawberries which never saw the inside of a fridge so still have that intense sweetness that is almost never found at the grocery. They were varied in size, uneven in shape, and some were slightly overripe. I am so happy it is strawberry season again.
What is your farmers' market like? Do you know the vendors? What is the best one you have ever been to and why do you think it is so special? On this rainy Saturday, let us speak of summer things!