Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Market, To Market

Market Buys:
- Kholrabi
(This is new to me. Kholrabi looks like a root vegetable, but is actually part of the cabbage family. According to the vendor, it tastes like a cross between a turnip and an apple, is less bitter than a turnip, but less sweet than an apple. It can be peeled and eaten raw like an apple.)

- Turnips
- Beets

- 1 dozen pasture-raised, organic eggs

I have yet to feel at home at the Austin Farmers Market. On the one hand, the vibe is healthier, more laid back and of a generally more progressive food culture than the vibe at the Red Stick Farmers Market. In terms of the atmosphere, women aren’t walking around fully accessorized down to their spring sandals. It doesn’t even slightly feel like social hour for a gathering of the Junior League ladies and their children who are, at the coercion of their mommies, sporting gigantic hair bows overly-matched to dresses and socks. (Sorry young Junior League-ers; this can all just seem a bit type-A for a Saturday morning. Don’t the kids have to do this all over again for church on Sunday?)

At the Austin Farmers Market, people stroll through with their dogs. In a big adjacent park, musicians play, and people sit out on picnic blankets to listen while kids splash in the fountain. But the Austin Farmers Market can also feel too cool for school and less down to earth. Farmers don’t seem as readily eager to talk to customers about the fruits of their labors - a quality that has always marked the Red Stick Farmers Market with a degree of authenticity; before you can ask a question, the farmers will explain away. In BR, the farmers seem less jaded and more thrilled at the idea of talking about their produce, meat, plants or specialty items, thrilled at the opportunity to sell direct to the people. Also, while patron’s here don't have made-up faces that ring the GOOD MORNING siren, big, dark sunglasses say: I’m not chipper yet (which I'm pretty down with). Perfectly scraggly hair suggests: I’m kinda rock ‘n roll. Pseudo hippie-parents’ babies’ arms and legs dangle out of baby bjorns, and fresh-faced athletes who seem to have just come from a run aren’t exuding: GOOD MORNING; they’re exuding: I am fit. I am a doer. I am about to conquer this amazing Austin day. The people surrounding me make me wonder if my bed sheets are trailing behind me, if maybe they accidentally got tucked into my jeans while I was dressing, like a toilet paper accident. Am I the height of uncool, unfit and un-PC? Everyone, and Self, I am just not yet a true Austinite. And while I felt Baton Rougean to the core when I was in BR, I suppose I was utterly comfortable being among the several black sheep Baton Rougeans.

In any case, I rolled out of bed at 10:15 a.m. today, pulled on some clothes (my new Saints T-shirt to be exact) and headed to the market. One aspect I LOVE about the Austin market is that it opens at 9 a.m. instead of at the crack of dawn as the BR market does (okay, 8 a.m., but I think it used to be 7 a.m.), and it stays open until 1 p.m. instead of noon. So if I arrive at 11 a.m., I haven’t necessarily missed out on the good stuff. It’s as if the Austin Farmers Market is saying: Austinites - It’s Saturday. Sleep in. Or, if you’re up early, mull around the house before you head to the market. And on the inside, my heart beams: Thank you. Thank you for not making me feel freakish because I can’t get here at the crack of dawn to buy those farm-raised eggs I so badly wanted. (I know, BR, there's the heat and humidity to consider.)

Today, I spotted lots of kale, carrots, turnips, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, scallions and garlic greens. I was lucky to find the one booth that had beets, and I felt compelled to purchase a bunch. Tonight, these beets will make an appearance in honor of the She Eats Beats kick-off meal.

Stay tuned.

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