My CSA box is delivered every other Wednesday. On the off weeks, I can now mosey down to the brand new Haight Street farmer’s market in my neighborhood, which also takes place on Wednesdays!
This week I still had tons and tons of produce left from my box and a trip to the store, so there was nothing I really needed. I couldn’t help wandering down there just to check it out, of course. It’s a medium-sized market. Definitely more stands than the little Kaiser market which used to be one of my closest farmer’s markets, with maybe five stands of mixed produce and a couple more with something specific, like strawberries or peaches. I only had a few dollars with me, because I wasn’t really expecting to buy anything, but then I was thrilled to see the Kashiwase Farms stand, with crate upon crate of white peaches! I like strawberries but I also find them inherently unsatisfying (I know, I’m strange), and so it’s been me and the citrus fruits for many months now.
The man at the Kashiwase stand told me these peaches were nothing compared to what he’ll have in the weeks to come, but the samples tasted like heaven to me! I got a lesson on picking peaches without squeezing and bruising them half to death (push gently right around the stem opening, just like choosing a melon, and then pick a mix of fruit that are soft and firm in that area) and picked out four beautiful, sweet, juicy peaches to take home with me and gloat over.
The rest of the stands are either specialty products, like raw milk and butter, nuts, or honey, or prepared foods. The market has everything from baked goods to Afghani and Indian prepared meals. Cruising around the market it seemed like those stands were getting by far the most attention. It always seems a little weird to me when the proportion of prepared food stands is greater than the produce stands, but from their popularity they are clearly a very welcome addition to the markets. (Or maybe they were so crowded because they all give away delicious samples!)
I thought I might get away with just my peaches, but then I went all the way to the back of the market to check out the stand that sold me a delicious bunch of gai lan last time I was there. This time they had huge bunches of fresh amaranth, which I’ve been wanting to try for ages. The bunch I bought was so big it filled almost my entire canvas shopping bag!
The amaranth, while inexpensive and a great deal, to boot, used up the rest of the cash I had on me. So I just strolled around for a while and checked out what else looked good and abundant. There were some beautiful multicolored chards, looking about as shiny and bright as any chard I’ve ever seen, and of course a multitude of fresh spring onions and garlics with their tops still attached. The other abundant item was my produce nemesis, the fava bean. (One of the best things about FFTY, my CSA, is that it lets me say which veggies I absolutely don’t want in my box. I am pretty much a lover of all produce, but I can’t eat bell peppers and I won’t eat favas, so having that option really reduces the amount of stuff from my box I end up giving away or throwing away.)