A few weeks ago I made a trip down to the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market on Lyndale. One of the things that I love about the Market is the way that my experiences there are so indicative of the season. In early summer I go in jeans and pick up a bunch of asparagus and spring lettuce. Deep in summer, I sweat my way through the stalls in linens, and sip limeade while I carry around my raspberries. This time, it was October 28th, the Sunday before Halloween, I was bundled up in a scarf, and the last of the season’s harvest was on display. There were heaps of orange pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, gourds everywhere, and also some really interesting heritage squash, pumpkins, and tomatoes that added a new color to the displays.
I’ve made a few quick trips down to the weekday market this season to pick up things here and there, but they tend to be sparse and only have the basics for sale. I always enjoy a chance to browse the stalls that fill up on the weekends because it becomes a cultural event, with people selling all sorts of homemade goods; cheeses, winter preserves, sauces, orchard honey and sausages. I always find the venders to be extremely friendly and willing to answer questions, and one of my favorite parts of the market is hearing their food story. I think a lot of them have figured out that if you engage the customers, they’re more likely to walk away with a bag full of produce… that seems to be the case with me as least! There’s just something about the idea of farmers being excited about their food that makes me excited about it too.
The assortment of colors and textures is always sort of inspirational for me; and I like stumbling across plants that I’ve never seen before. I try to buy something I’ve never cooked before each time I go to the market, and challenge myself to find a new recipe. More than once, my market purchase has turned into my blog post recipe later in the day. This time, I picked up a bunch of collard greens – we had tried them in lab earlier that week and they were fantastic, but I hadn’t had the chance to make them myself (for the record, they turned out amazing. See blog posts for Oct. 28). I didn’t buy much else this trip, just a few eggs and a bit of chicken. I always find myself wishing I had bought more when I get home, though… those tomatoes looked so good, and it’s going to be a long winter of tasteless, plastic-y grocery store romas before the Market starts back up next summer.