Market Dinner

market dinner

I have a tradition. (Yes--another one!) Sometimes I don't realize I have these until the time of year rolls around. Then, all of the sudden, I must get to the farmers' market, come hell or high water, and I must buy radishes and asparagus and make a whole dinner out of them. 

The Columbia City Farmers Market started a couple weeks ago, but this was the first I could partake. In the sun, Loretta and I did a loop to see what was the best (and cheapest), then did another loop to make our purchases. Before I get all gooey on you about our little dinner, a few words about farmers' markets. (I have another tradition of pontificating. But you knew that).

I cannot afford to buy groceries for my family at any farmers market I've been to in Western Washington. I wish I could. I wish I could at least get all my produce there. But produce is almost all we eat! And MacPhersons is 1/3 the price.

I used to feel guilty that I didn't buy more there. I don't feel guilty anymore. Instead, I enjoy the excursion and love running into people I know. I buy a few token things and enjoy them with gusto. I treat it more as an event than a grocery-shopping trip.

I'm with my friend Sue--"Why are farmers markets so expensive when the middleman is ostensibly being cut out?" I don't know. I'm sure there's a great reason, and I'm positive those farmers and the ones working the farmers market aren't getting rich. Can anyone shed light on this?

I feel like an outsider when I'm there. I don't feel cool enough, local enough, organic enough. And I know a lot about food! I own this is partly my issue, but there's something about the vibe of many farmers markets that runs counter to the spirit of food and cooking that drives me--inclusion, simplicity, making do.

I'm dying to hear your take on farmers markets--do you go? How often? Have you been guilt-ridden like me?

In spite of all this, I stick to my beloved tradition--a market dinner in early May, usually eaten without plates or silverware. If the day is nice enough, it can, of course be a picnic. This year, I laid out parchment paper on the kitchen table. Then, a bunch of baby carrots and a cluster of Easter radishes with the tops on. Some softened butter and a little dish of kosher salt. Soft and hard rolls from Columbia City Bakery, a small round of fresh goat cheese, and a bowl of olive oil. And the star of the show this time, a raw asparagus salad with mint and bacon. I'll post about it next week. (See these tricks I have up my sleeve?)

And always, being there for the first time in the spring and seeing the mounds of mint, broccoli rabe, and radishes makes me teary. Such overwhelming abundance. At the same time I delight in it, I'm wishing it could be for everyone.