MOVING ON, we’re all psyched that the market is back. And it’s not full yet, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? After all, we’re in the Midwest, and as I wrote in my rant about CSA’s, the idea is that we support the farmers in their earnest efforts to cultivate what is cultivate-able here in the areas surrounding Chicago. Which means no tomatoes for awhile. Ramps are going to be gone soon. And strawberries will only happen for a certain bit. So I encourage everyone, whether you’re in Chicago or not, to visit a local market of some sort (a great thing I experienced while visiting the small towns of Iowa were these little baskets of assorted garden vegetables people would leave out on their lawns or in their driveways or wherever, along with a little lockbox and a sign that said something like “50 cents each” and you’d take a cucumber and a tomato and drop a buck in the little box) and talk to these people and get familiar with what is growing, when it’s growing, and why. Get to know the troubles they’re having (a ton of rain, for instance, has prevented one farmer friend from planting very much yet) and the successes on the way (another friend had maybe five or six items this week; by mid-summer they will have one of the biggest stands in Lincoln Park).
As for me, this week I picked up six gorgeous duck eggs, all varying in size and color (that’s right, blue and brown and white, and there may have even been a little straw on them still, too), a couple big handfuls of great, new asparagus, still purple around the crests (what better meal is there than asparagus cooked in butter, topped with a couple of poached eggs, sea salt and a few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano?), and some incredibly flavorful spinach, fertilized by the hard work of the farmer’s army of earthworms (I love earthworms and their ability to make a ton happen in the world of growth--and this is coming from a guy who is absolutely terrified of worms). Oh, and cat grass. Can’t forget the cat grass whenever I’m down there. Otherwise, what would my guys have to throw back up ten minutes after eating it?