13 May 2010

Such a perfect day

I find the farmer's market dangerous, and the danger lies in seduction, the allure of fresh fruits and vegetables, local honey and eggs, freshly roasted nuts and cut flowers.

I am susceptible.

Our market, as I've said, is held in a dusty little lot, and it's generally populated by the same vendors: the fish dude, the tomato dude, the singing dude (who apparently replaced the singing chick), the lady who sells hand-crocheted items, the apple lady, the folks who sell strictly organic comestibles, the tamale lady, the people whose tables are filled with chamomile flowers and beautiful beets and lettuces.

The air was cool and the breeze was cooler, weather belying all the produce that's come into season. I was at the market early and people were still setting up their stalls as I made a beeline for the table where I get organic strawberries, and later in the season, the best-tasting and most beautiful white corn ever. The scent of the fruit was strong, and mixed with the smell of fresh, clean dirt and wet greenery. I purchased my generous three-pack of deep ruby berries, and wandered toward the apples, which are moving out of season and are no longer pretty, no longer giving off the scent of autumn.

I didn't need fish and I bake my own bread and I shied away from the enticing aroma of roasting peanuts. I gazed for a moment at the potted herbs, but mine are doing well, the variegated sage and peppermint revitalized by the longer, warmer days. The breeze shifted and I smelled in delicious and unholy combination kettle corn and roasting corn. I smiled when I saw the man who sells little cakes and pastries sitting on the tailgate of his truck, sucking on a honey straw from the man who sells honey a few stalls north.

The bunches of chamomile were pretty and I wondered what inventive thing I could do with them. Of all the stands, this was most likely to have pea tendrils and pea sprouts, both odd items called for in the recipe I was making for dinner, and since I didn't hold out much hope of finding any (we still can't fathom what a pea tendril is or why one would want to eat it), I broke off a bit of ginger and selected two carrots to round out the stir fried broccoli and baby bok choy I was planning instead. I was entranced by the pretty little beets and turnips and for a brief moment, harbored the thought of roasting some for my lunch.

As I headed out of the market, I slowed again at the tomato dude's tables. It will be awhile yet before decent tomatoes are available, but here were squash blossoms and fresh fava beans, as well as baby squashes of all varieties. I thought about the fava beans--hadn't I just seen something that called for fava beans?--and it was then I realized how dangerous the farmer's market is.

I become deranged with the sheer beauty of what's before me.

This, however, was a moment of truth: I saw that the tomato dude had...fresh blueberries.

The blueberries grown here are not always so nice as the ones that come from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. The local berries are usually southern highbush, and sometimes those are a little less sweet. I knew it would be the case, and I bought them anyway, longing for fresh ones to put on cereal and mix with the strawberries.

Then I went home, and I washed and ate the most delicious strawberries ever--sweet enough to make me swoon--and pretty good blueberries. I ate them until I was full.

The End.

Go listen to some good music: "Strawberry Swing" from the album Viva La Vida by Coldplay. For dinner that night, I made Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze, which was excellent (and easy), skipping over the pea tendrils and what not in favor of stir fried vegetables with a little dry sherry, garlic and ginger, and fresh white corn on the cob, the first of the season. We finished with strawberries.

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