Sunday, August 21, 2016

Invasion of the Vegetables

I never thought I’d find this week’s New Thing at the Farmer’s Market, and certainly not a Scary New Thing, but here it is:
It’s called Romanesco cauliflower, and it’s enough to keep me up nights. It looks like something prehistoric or extraterrestrial. I don’t think I can actually get up the courage to eat it. It would grow aliens inside my stomach. Last year, when I discovered that Brussels sprouts grow on stalks, they looked magical. The cauliflower: frightening.
The Farmer’s Market was such a display of abundance! It’s not even that my head of Romaine lettuce is the size of a laundry basket or that one bunch of Swiss chard can take up a car seat. The giant zucchini are making their appearance – yikes, there are even Romanesco zucchini! And now there are so many varieties of heirloom tomatoes: Black Krim, Green Zebra, and Chocolate Stripes. But my favorite name is the Mortgage Lifter Tomato.
There’s a build-your-own bouquet flower stall and Wild Scoops ice cream. The fish guys, the sprouts guys, the bread folks. One sign said, “Distressed Gingerbread Cookies, $1/pkg.” I had to ask. The answer, admitted the bakers sheepishly, “No, they’re not unhappy. They’re just not … up to par.”
The musical entertainment was lovely, but all the entertainment I need is to watch Karl of La Grassa slice fresh pasta. He lays out the sheet of perfect pasta, folds it meticulously, and then slices it cleanly. He peels a tab back from the fold of each slice, lifts it up, and shakes the pasta loose. I could watch it for hours.

Special last Saturday, Alaska Farmland Trust had a tent set up for tasting vodka and vodka-inspired food. Clayton, the chef, said he was given the vodka to taste and then he created the dishes: “Heirloom tomato Bloody Mary salad with ghost pepper vodka” and “Spent grain bacon waffle with blueberry vodka whipped cream.” Not much of a drinker, I had the Forget Me Not blueberry vodka with organic lemonade. But then, after a sip of Glacier Melt Vodka, I felt loopy and had to have more of Clayton’s “Potato latkes and smoked salmon with Yensis onion jam.” I just had to. I was driving.

I’m not a foodie. I don’t take photos of my food or look for fancy, creative selections in restaurants. When I buy a potato, it’s either smooth, baking, red, or sweet. But at the Farmer’s Market, there’s Yukon Gold, Lemhi, Magic Molly, Huckleberry, Doc’s, Allagash, and German butterball.

The sun was shining, the music playing, and all around me were bushels and bushels of vegetables and healthy food. Everything was just so HEALTHY and fresh. Friends said hello, and I thought, things don’t get better than this.

1 comment:

  1. You made me look! I just had to google "mortgage lifter tomatoes" to see what they look like and how they got their name. Your illustration is very accurate.


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