Sky Full of Bacon

What impressed you among farmer’s markets goods?

I did a CSA for the first time this year, and while some of it was just ready supply (I made a lot of zucchini bread), I can think of a couple of things I got in my CSA, or grew in my Earthbox, or bought at the farmer’s markets which really surprised me with how much better they were than what I’d been buying, or avoiding buying, for years. Despite all the arguments about whether organic or farmer’s market or whatever produce does or does not contain more Flavora-6 or Nutritia-9, this stuff blew me away with its more concentrated flavor and, I am convinced as a result, concentrations of many other good things compared to watery supermarket versions of the same species. Here’s what surprised and delighted me this year:

1) French breakfast radishes. I’ve spent a happy life not eating radishes, but I had radishes with butter and dark rye bread at the Bristol last year, and after staring at it with a definite WTF? expression, suddenly I had an epiphany and not only wanted more radishes, I wanted to grow radishes. And so I did, as I described here. They were a hit through much of the summer, I’m now a committed radishophile.

2) Kale. Another vegetable I think I’d managed to live several decades without eating, but what started to sell me on it was having the cavolo nero, black kale, at various fancy dinners (such as the mulefoot dinner; you can see it in process at Vie in my video on that dinner). Kale soaks up porky flavor beautifully, as well as any collard green-type southern green, but it keeps more of its own texture than those greens, which get a little seaweedy by comparison. Not that they aren’t glorious, but I like the sturdier kale best.

3) Celery. This one really surprised me. I got celery in my CSA box a couple of times and it’s just amazingly more flavorful than watery, styrofoamy supermarket celery— small, dark green, packed with peppery flavor. A little of it adds a lot of vegetable depth to a soup or other use. I’ll never look at this often rather mediocre and forgettable utility player the same way.

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3 Responses to “What impressed you among farmer’s markets goods?”

  1. art Says:

    All three of your choices continue to impress me. Celery is actually one of my favorite vegetables (real celery) and as soon as I got my hands on some I crafted celery soda at home. After the celery soda I added booze. Ironically, one of my favorite kale recipes, which is best appreciated from a farmers market, was inspired by a grocery store! A julienne raw kale salad with pine nuts and dried cranberries or cherries is super good.

    Some of the things that have impressed me this year and every year are potatoes, hot peppers, peaches and berries. Some newer things for me that will be on my repertoire in the future are greens like spigarello and red mustards, wild mushrooms like chicken/hen of the woods and anything else wild for that matter like ground cherries or native plums.

    Things that I will continue to grow myself and enjoy throughout the season are herbs, sweet 100 and patio tomatoes.

  2. Margie Says:

    Add my vote to your 3 selections, with celery as the biggest surprise. I was also caught off guard by the fresh creamy potatoes, the clean sweet broccoli, and crisp juicy garlic in my CSA box.

  3. Michael Gebert Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Margie. Did you notice where my masthead is from? (The answer is on your blog, just a couple of posts down…)