I grew up in the country, on a farm, where fresh produce was in abundance all summer long. Our plates were full of fresh corn, okra, tomatoes, cabbage, kale, shallots, berries, and the likes all summer long. We never needed to visit the produce aisles of our local supermarket, because everything we needed was right in our backyard. Literally. Because of the close proximity to produce and the freshness, I became spoiled. Though I can have a small plot in my meager Capitol Hill patio, a vegetable farm is out of the question. And that is the glorious thing about a Farmers Market, it brings the farm to you.
Last summer, we would frequent the H Street Farmers Market just about every weekend. We would get lost in the various colors of the produce that surrounded us, the fresh cheeses, the bread guy. Every week was a new surprise waiting for us, because as the summer goes on, as new produce goes out of season, new fruits and veggies are right around the corner to tickle our taste buds. Not only was the market a place for us to get are fun loving veggies, it was also a fabulous place to catch up with neighbors. Every weekend we would bump into friends, and as my husband or I would fill up are bags, the kids would have fun with their buddies, playing with the chalk or balls that were always at the market.
For whatever reason, this summer has been chaotic for us. We’ve had to be out of town more than we would like, or something always come up on Saturday morning from nine to noon. And when it came time to cooking dinner, I would raise my fist in curses for missing the H Street Farmers Market again. Yes, Eastern Market is lovely, and my bags are often full of produce from there, but it’s open year round. The H Street Market is only open through a few months, and it’s just down the street.
This past Saturday morning, when it was a million degrees, I put on my sunhat, grabbed my bags and headed over to the H Street Farmers Market. As I walked, I felt like I was walking into a volcano, but I knew the joys that awaited me. (The oldest child had also had a friend over to spend the night the evening before and the alone time was glorious.) As I entered the market, I could barely contain my giddiness and hoped I had enough bags to carry my loot. From one stand I bought potatoes, shallots, and beets. From another okra, kale, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, corn, peppers. From another fresh made cheeses, and to another for peaches and nectarines! If I could have bought up the whole market — I would have.
On the walk home, instead of focusing on the feeling of my skin melting off, I focused on the amazing things I would cook up when I got home — Gumbo! Beet salad! Tomato mozzarella basil salad! Eggplant Parmesan! Peach cobbler! The possibilities were endless.
While I was turning these amazing veggies into tantalizing morsels of edible goodness, I thought about the market, it’s closeness, and how I really don’t take advantage of it enough. There it is, just a few blocks away with it’s array of well, nature’s pallet, and I decided that for the rest of the summer, I was going to make sure my canvas is covered with all of it’s colors, and flavors. And than I wiped some more drool of my chin.