Although there are areas of the country where farmers’ markets feature loads of fresh vegetables year round, those of us who live in regions with a different set of blessings experience long stretches when farmers’ markets (at least those that remain open) offer only cider, apples, root vegetables, frozen meat and things like candles and sweaters made of the coarsest wool. Which is all fine, but it mostly serves to enhance the excitement we can feel when we hit the big time: a farmers’ market loaded with stuff that was picked not only nearby but yesterday.
When you see mini-cucumbers, white eggplants, shell beans, baby squash, multicolored carrots and greens whose names you don’t even know (and which can be up for debate — I’ve seen mizuna referred to as “spider mustard”), it’s time to go shopping: without knowing what you’re looking for, without any kind of plan, just shopping to buy what looks or tastes good — or what the farmer tells you is good. This is food shopping at its best, and right now you don’t need to go to California or even Union Square to get it done. (If you belong to a community-supported-agriculture farm or have a garden, you may not even need to do the shopping.)
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