Saturday, May 3, 2008

On the Market

This morning we drove five miles south to the nearest farmers market with high hopes of finding the first tender greens of the season, asparagus, and much more. There was a sign in the parking lot next to the small town's renowned historic inn. We pulled in, baffled, as the advertised location was a few blocks farther down.

"Are we obligated to buy something just by coming?" CP whispered as we awkwardly approached the three vendors clustered at one end of the lot. No other customers were in sight.

One woman broke the ice by coming over and admiring the baby. Then she gave us a casual tour of everyone's wares--irises in pots and little bouquets of lily-in-the-valley, frozen lamb, herbs, and all-natural homemade doggie treats. (When asked, I was glad to reply truthfully that we have no dogs.) "There will be a lot more things available next week," she assured us.

We ended up buying a half dozen free range eggs for $1.25 from a nine-year-old boy. (The lady at the first stand had eggs, too. "But you should buy them from him," she said.) I asked him what kind of chickens he has. He hesitated, then, after some prompting from his mom, answered, "Red and yellow chickens."

Two blocks down we found the other market. Four vendors perched by their tables on and around the porch of the potato chip factory warehouse. A big sign on the railing festooned with fake red and green chili peppers declared that it was the Farmers Market. There was just enough room for one of us to sidle past the tables. Two or three other people were standing around chatting with the sellers.

We bought a $2 bag of rainbow Swiss chard (enough for a one-person salad). I couldn't contain my curiosity, and asked the seller why there were two markets so close together. "There were some personality issues. We split up for the sake of the market," was her explanation. She added, "Come back next week. We'll have a lot more."

The owners of the farm we visited last month were there, as promised. Their offerings consisted largely of pork-derived products in a cooler. CP wanted to buy some. "I don't think I've ever bought pork. Let's try it." We forked over $25 for a six-pound-plus package of Boston Butt. The woman introduced us to her husband, a barbecue aficionado who gave us tips on making pulled pork and promised to email us his favorite recipe.

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