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Market Meander

August 4, 2010

Yesterday after work, a breezy summer day on the cusp of evening, I happened to catch the tail end of the Boston Copley Square Farmers Market. I am well aware of this markets existence, and have even purchased all of my supper club wares here once, but since I can rarely make it to Copley before the 6pm close, I usually miss this gem. The vendors were beginning to close up, but all were willing to keep the crowd happy with a few last-minute purchases.

While meandering through the crowd and eyeing the fresh produce, I felt very European. I could have purchased our weekly eggs, milk, cheese, any sort of bread product imaginable, and of course fruits and vegetables right there in the square. The idea of taking fresh produce into my home, within the same few days it being plucked from the earth is heartening when living in the city. In our small Northern Virginia town, I have grown up with a wealth of fresh produce; be it from our own garden or local farm stands.  There really is no dispute in the taste of these fresh goods in comparison to the bruised, picked over shades of produce found in the super markets. I have expressed my disgust with my local Shaw’s many times (how could there not be fresh BASIL? So basic, but never available! And why can’t I buy anything that doesn’t look like it has been manhandled and is on the verge of death?? And it still costs a FORTUNE?) and being able to pick up cheap, fresh produce right here in Boston quiets my resentment during the summer months. There really is nothing better than to bring a fresh tomato to your nose and still smell the pungent scent of the vine and the sweetness of the flesh under its bright skin, or to smell the richness of the earth still bathing a bright carrot. The small imperfections or tiny wormholes are the embellishments of flavor and freshness; I would rather have a small, slightly dusty looking apple with a small wormhole than a blinded-by-the wax, scentless Red Delicious from the supermarket any day. I loathe those sorts of apples, too false in color and in taste.

I have been playing around with the idea of pickling lately, I would love to preserve the summers best produce in a zingy, tongue-tickling pickle. I have been looking at both of these books,  Put ’em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton and Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects by Karen Solomon and I think I ready to try it out. While making my way through the market, a basket of small cucumbers caught my eye and their label “pickling cuc’s” inspired me to grab 6 or so and throw them in a bag. They are about half the size of the English cucumbers we have grown accustomed to in grocery stores and curl slightly, their bumpy exterior, with its little wart-like bumps, make them quite different then the smooth, deep green you normally would see. Six cucumbers only set me back $2. I was dumbfounded, that is less than I could spend on ONE cucumber. I will be returning to the Silverbrook Farms stand for sure next time I can make the 6pm deadline. I was happy with my newly purchased cucs, but as I continued to ramble through the square, a bundle of beets caught my eye. I grew to like beets while working at the Club Car on Nantucket. I love them when they are roasted and served cold in a salad with goat cheese- the earthy-sweetness of the beets is enhanced by the tangy, creaminess of the cheese. Nigel Slater has also mentioned a lovely and easy beet dish in the Kitchen Diaries that uses the beet greens, roasted beets and goat cheese. My mouth began to water and in to the bag they go for another $1. I began to head home, satisfied with my purchases, when I stopped to enjoy the cheerful sunflowers at the Siena Farms stand. I began to wander through their tent and saw a large bundle of fresh dill- I couldn’t stop myself- why would I want to wait to buy a disappointing, wilted bunch from Shaw’s when I could get it fresh? Here I come pickling! I also spied a crate of the most beautiful carrots I have ever seen, small and slender in a rainbow of colors: yellow, orange, white and purple. Pickled carrots would be delicious right? Ohhhh, and what about yellow and green beans? Also could be delicious pickled and would be lovely dropped into a Bloody Mary. Both were wrapped in plastic bags and I headed to the register before I conjured up some other cooking project; I am powerless before farm fresh goods.

I walked home, with 11 dollars less in my wallet (way less than I could spend on the cuc’s alone at shows) and a bag full of produce. I am going to need to jump on that pickling project before it’s too late.  On a side note, Tuesday night was supper club. Steph cooked and we had a great throwback meal of sloppy joes, fancied up on toasted baguette and finished with fruit skewers and drizzled chocolate. Her mom’s recipe for salsa, as an app, was also a hit and great one to add to the repertoire.  Her is a picture of the plate:

 

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