Sunday, September 17, 2006

Gift of Good Land

I haven’t been to all that many farmers markets– a couple of small village markets in France 15 or so years ago, the big marches de legumes in Lyon and in Fort de France (the latter in Martinique) –so I can’t judge the diversity of produce we have around here. But I can say I was wide-eyed at the abundance yesterday at the farmers market in New Canaan. Mid-September is really part of two harvest at local farms, and so the stalls were packed with zucchini and tomatoes and peaches as well as pears and butternut squash, pumpkins and leeks – tender produce from the hottest days of summer carefully laid out on the tables next to bushel baskets stacked with produce that thrives in frostier days.

My daughter, Elie, works on Saturday mornings for Riverbank Farm, arranging vegetables under Riverbank’s tent, working the cash drawer, weighing, bagging, and so on. I dropped her off at 9 yesterday, when the canopies were being erected and the trucks unloaded, and went back at 11:45 to pick her up. I wanted to make an inventory, so I took a small notebook and asked my son, Kaare, who is 8, if he wanted to help me list everything we saw at the farmers market.

“No thanks.”

“What? Don’t you want to be a reporter?”

“No. I want to be a minor league baseball player.”

That was an acceptably unusual answer, so I laid off. At the market, my wife shopped and Kaare visited the baker’s stall and came away with an enormous piece of something that looked like chocolate coffee cake. I made my own list. Here it is:

Red peppers, green peppers, multi-colored peppers, hot peppers, purple peppers. Purple eggplant, Chinese eggplant, white eggplant. Watermelon and musk melon. Fire beans, pole beans, wax beans, lima beans. Butternut squash. Broccoli, broccoli di rabe (spelled “broccoli raab” on the sign), red cabbage, green cabbage. Radishes and daikon radishes. Collard greens. Bok choi, tatsoi, mizuna, lettuce, mixed salad greens, cucumbers, and pickling cucumbers. Leeks, copra onions, garlic, red onions, scallions, and shallots. Eggs. Carola potatoes and russet potatoes. Carrots, beets, red turnips, and white turnips. Delicatta squash, acorn squash, yellow squash, zucchini, gourds, pumpkins. Swiss chard. Basil. Sweet corn and Indian corn. Seckel pears, Bartlett pears, red d’anjou pears, apples -- empires, cortlands, jonathans, ginger golds, galas, macintosh, honey crisps, fujis, macouns – purple plums, peaches and nectarines. Tomatoes – beefsteaks and cherries and heirlooms of all colors – and tomatillos. In the shade of half a dozen white canopies, summer and fall for sale in six dozen varities.


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