Sun 24 Jun 2007
We’ve been going downtown to the farmer’s market at the old railroad station every Saturday morning since it opened for the summer, trying to get there about 9, later than the stalwarts, of course, but there’s still plenty to choose from. Eating locally has limitations in any region — try finding local olive oil outside of California — but it’s immensely satisfying to cook whole meals or even parts of meals using ingredients produced in-state or right over the line in Mississippi.
Pictured here is our haul from yesterday: fingerling potatoes, tomatoes of various sorts, purple cabbage sprouts, carrots, onions, squash, rosemary, garlic, bell peppers, bok choy, opal basil, peaches and blackberries. I used a green pepper, tomatoes, an onion, rosemary and basil and garlic AND local feta cheese we bought the previous week at the market on last night’s pizza.
The market also draws, every other week from east Tennessee, a purveyor of organic, grass-fed beef. Here’s a picture of our New York strip steak dinner with local potatoes, bok choy and tomatoes. You have to be careful cooking grass-fed beef because it’s so lean, but, boy, does it have a lot of flavor.
The dynamic at the market is interesting. One booth, for example, is run by two young men from across the state line in Mississippi, not far southeast of Memphis. Their produce, herbs and flowers are artfully packaged and presented; they offer recipes; they’re obviously aiming at the young foodie audience. Prices are $3.50 for this, $4.50 for that, not really expensive, after all, and it’s all good stuff. Across the aisle, however, is an older couple, just farmers, from the next county. Their wide variety of produce is offered in small basket sizes. They don’t talk much; they don’t provide recipes or advice; they don’t have flowers. But they charge from a dollar to two dollars per basket for their vegetables. As with everything in life, you pays yer money and you takes yer choice.