Tag Archives: farmers market

Farmer’s Market Chronicles – Again At Last

It is difficult to put into words why the farmer’s market makes me so absurdly happy. I arrive on my lunch hour feeling like this




buy some of this




Break it. Break another little piece of my heart now baby. Go on, break it. Break another little piece of my heart I know you will.



sit on a bench as waves drift by




and by




and by




under blanketed sky



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Filed under Culinary Travels, Obsessed with Produce

You may not want to hug the bug on your plate, but embrace it nonetheless

… Several years ago, in a reputable Thai fusion place not far away …

Halfway through dinner one evening I was appalled to find an inchworm doing its cute little humpbacked crawl through my noodle salad. The waiter was not sympathetic. “Our produce is all organic,” he sniffed.

I’m not particularly squeamish. I grew up a small town farm girl, and always tell my girls, “Dirt don’t hurt.”

I’m also a firm believer in the many benefits of organic produce, but that doesn’t excuse skimping on washing before service. When I insisted on a refund he just shrugged and took my plate away. Only half my meal was comped, and I walked out hungry after eating half of a worm’s playground. I hoped he wasn’t missing any friends.

The little incher wasn’t as big and hairy as this guy from the pumpkin patch last fall, but still. That was my first, and last time at this unnamed Sacramento restaurant.

… Flash forward, but not too far, to last week on my living room couch …

I read an article by Harold McGee in Issue 3 of “Lucky Peach” talking about “Handling Herbs.” Spanking mint as opposed to muddling it for mojitos to ‘liberate its minty essence without over-damaging the cells and eliciting a vegetal quality’ was a surprising tip, but I was most intrigued by his discussion of how bugs can make organic produce healthier and even taste better.

Maybe that’s why my backyard sage is so wonderful…

According to McGee, the flavors of herbs and spices come from the chemicals they make and store for chemical warfare against bugs, animals, and microbes. You wouldn’t munch on a cinnamon stick because it doesn’t taste good on its own, but if you simmer apple cider with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks, the resulting infusion is autumn comfort in a cup.

Thus, if a plant is damaged by pest invasion, that sends a message to boost its chemical defenses (aka antioxidants, aka flavor). McGee suggests reconsidering buying the less-than-pretty bug-eaten produce at the farmer’s market as it may be tastier and healthier than it’s more presentable neighbors. (!)

I’ve often heard food is only as good as the soil it’s grown in, but this was the first I’d heard that bugs can actually improve a plant’s nutrients and flavor. I guess it’s true for people and plants alike; whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

… And then, at a restaurant recently nominated for a James Beard award …

I had my second meet and greet with an unexpected critter in a restaurant setting. A few minutes upon arrival, while admiring the trays of artfully laid black trumpet mushrooms, locally grown oranges, key limes, and Persian cucumbers, I spotted a tiny mite-like thing crawling near my place setting. I wasn’t offended, but I didn’t really want to share my dinner with him, so I asked my husband to “get it.” He brushed his thumb over it, leaving a dark brown paint stroke on the white linen. I didn’t bother mentioning it to the waiter, and the entire meal was unforgettably decadent.

… Checking out the rearview …

I doubt that Thai-fusion waiter was up on his McGee so many years ago, but maybe I’ll reconsider my boycott. I’m can’t say I’m ready to slurp a scorpion lollipop like these insect treats we discovered at Pismo Beach last summer, but maybe it’s not such a bad sign if a healthy critter hops on my plate.

What do you think?


Filed under Cookbooks and other Book Reviews, Obsessed with Produce, Techniques

Farmer’s Market Chronicles – Impressionist Fall

I’ve been feeling a bit bled and blurred as of late.

Today was the first day of fall, with a high of 97 degrees. Summer is going to have to drag me out with it, kicking and screaming. I bought six pounds of tomatoes at the farmer’s market. Fresh pasta/pizza sauce will soon be in my freezer at the ready for a cold day basil pick-me-up.

On the way to the market, I took a photo of one of my favorite trees. See how it’s almost on its tippy toes leaning back to catch a few rays? That’s me in two months.

I deliberately ignored the pumpkins. Peaches still rule, though not for much longer.

I sat in the thinning grass. Cesar Chavez ignored me.

A red balloon in the branches overhead caught my eye.

I thought of Monet.


Filed under Culinary Travels

Farmers Market Chronicles – Week 3

Humdrum clouds spit on my windshield on the drive to work this morning. A few hours later found me side-walking to the farmer’s market (too busy looking up to walk a straight path like a normal person.)


Up close

Man v. Tree

This is why I live in California.

My spoils for the week:

Flowers: $6

Cilantro: $1

Apricots: $2/lb

Cherries: $3/lb

Red onion: $1/lb

Honey orange almonds: $4.75/.5 lb

On my way back to reality, when I finally glanced down, this is what caught my eye:


Filed under Obsessed with Produce