Food Friday: Fruit Stands and Farmer's Markets

My dad and I didn't always get along. He was an old school businessman from the midwest and I was a California city girl. So much was off base. Nonetheless, I recall our trips to fruit stands with affection.

Whenever we drove out to the countryside in search of fruit stands with beautiful produce, everything became right. My dad had a childlike enthusiasm for such things. He would inspect everything that was set out, checking color and smell, and then speak earnestly to the farmers about the season and their particular varieties and cultivars. He would direct me to examine each astounding thing.

 He was particularly concerned with tomatoes. He could remember all their names, and was thrilled to see the varieties with unusual colors and dense sweet flesh. He liked nothing better than to slice the finest deep red ones onto a plate with a little salt. 

All this is brought back to me at this time of year, as I look forward to the farmer's market each week. I would encourage you to pack up and go. Bring some cash, some bags, a camera and the family.

Here are several great reasons to get out to the farmer's market: 

  • You will see what is being produced in your area. 
  • You will get the best tasting fruits and vegetables. 
  • You can get large quantities for "putting up" ,i.e. canning, freezing, and drying. These projects can be simple like applesauce, pickles or jam, or complicated like salsa, relish or chutney. They can be for your families' delight or for use as coveted gifts at the holidays. 
  • You can meet new people and see ones you already know. 
  • You can get gardening tips. 
  • You can find some unique gifts or get inspired to make your own. 
  • You can use your fancy stroller and wear a big hat. 

My dad made the acquaintance of an old Japanese man who sold a particularly fine dense large red tomato. He had brought it from afar, and developed it. It had no name. Late in my dad's life, he saved some seeds from this tomato and put them in an envelope scrawled with the following, " Gina, Hope these seeds produce. If so save some for me. " 

Many years later, after his passing, I found the envelope. I did not trust myself to grow them out, so I gave them to a neighbor who is very careful gardener. To our surprise they germinated and produced the lovely tomato.