Monday, November 1, 2010

Memphis Farmer's Market

Last weekend I took a trip home to the good ole' South. I got some time to spend with my Dad and his lovely wife. And thanks to the most amazing man in the ENTIRE world, DH, I went with no children. Two days with zero parental responsibility? I almost didn't know what to do with myself!

My father and I took a trip to the Memphis Farmer's Market at the Agricenter on Friday the 29th. They have been frequenting the market more and more recently and I am thrilled to hear that. I was really curious to see how this market was different than my own in New York. So I took some pictures and have this to offer.
There were alot of similarities in produce. I am convinced that as Americans we have a collective national palette. We love tomatoes especially, onions, cucumbers, etc. All of that was available in Memphis. But while tomatoes have all but wrapped up in New York, they are still going strong down south, and probably will for the next couple of weeks. Most of the produce were varieties that I have seen in New York. But like tomatoes, they had more of the items I would consider summer varieties in New York. There were a huge amount of pumpkins including a very cool BLUE pumpkin. There were also gourds and mini pumpkins. Unfortunately I got the impression that the pumpkins were for decorative purposes. I really really want to get back to a time when Americans are buying pumpkins for eating purposes, rather than using canned prepared pumpkin. Pumpkins and winter squashes are easy to prepare (even if they take a long time to roast) and filled with wonderful nutrients. Yet most people don't buy them to eat them, but rather to stick on their front porch. And that is okay too, but pumpkins are native to North America and grow prolifically, we should herald that in our cuisine. Hmmm, a pumpkin cookbook....yet another project to tackle. Unfortunately the market at the Agricenter conducted it's last day of business on Saturday the 30th. They will back in April I believe.

Other similarities were local fish. The fish in this Memphis FM was not within 100 miles(a standard definition of local), rather it was trucked in from the gulf coast. Memphis is remember, not along the coastline. However it is from a small operation and is vanned in rather than commercially processed and trucked in. Plus the fish is amazingly fresh. I still believe that this non-industrialized fish should be considered local. I think this is a good way of taking advantage of modern transportation without losing your head in the shipping process. The drive to the Gulf Coast from Memphis is several hours, but can be done in less than a day. This is certainly no Chinese Tilapia, or even Alaskan Salmon. And it's path to your plate is clear, rather than opaque. Plus my Dad loves this stuff and says it is of the highest quality.

What was different? Other than the extended availability of seasonal products, the Memphis Farmer's Market had a great display of jams and jellies. And while we do have that in New York, one product I saw (and desperately wanted) was local Sorghum Molasses. I have never seen than in my farmer's markets. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any back to New York because I did not plan on checking luggage. (Damn you terrorists! You are interfering with my right to travel with regional food!!!) Such an ingredient is not ubiquitous in the cooking of my region (or at least isn't currently, or that I am aware of), so it was an exciting ingredient.

Also, I know of one stand in the Union Square Farmer's Market that sells plants, and starter veggie plants, but my local Inwood FM has none. On this last Friday in October a very kind woman was selling potted herbs of many varieties, all for $2 a bucket. She gave my Dad some good advice on how to care for them and how to prep for next spring. I love it.

I always love hearing what is available at a different farmer's markets across the country. If you think your local FM is cool and you want to plug your blog (or you just want to take the time to write a post) please send me a guest post about what your local market is like, and attach some pictures. I think this would be a cool use of the internet and a way to create a blogging community around The Table of Promise. You can email me at thetablofpromise(at)yahoo(dot)com.


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