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March 26, 2009

To market, to market . . .

Today I went to the Farmerís Market that is held every Thursday morning in the parking lot of the mall that is close our house. The stalls and table are temptingly displayed with fruits and vegetables, breads and desserts, fish and flowers. There is one table that displays homemade Italian pastas and desserts. The vendors speak with a lovely Italian accent and today she plied me with a pound cake sample that was delicious. The woman at the first table immediately gave me a sample of an organic Gala apple. Most of the produce is organic. When I buy something I usually have the vendor choose for me and they usually choose the best.

Today I had an interesting conversation with a young man that was selling bonsai plants. He said that his father had given him some specimen plants in Vietnam and he had brought them over and was now cultivating new ones and selling them as well. He has some that are 60 or 70 years old. He had some very nice specimens, which he seemed glad to show me even though I didnít buy anything . . . in fact I didnít buy anything from anyone today, but it is fun to look and taste.

I was reminded of the many farmersí markets that we have seen. When we travel we look for a farmerís market and buy bread or cheese and fruit to eat for lunches. We always laugh when we think of the open air markets in Italy. Normally here we touch and gently squeeze and smell the fruit but we were reprimanded severely in Italy by the little old ladies in head scarves. One doesnít touch the fruit Ė she will chose and sell you the one she thinks best!

In Venice our room overlooked the market and the Grand Canal. We loved watching the sellers and buyers bargaining over the produce. We went down and bought something ourselves. One has to be pretty aggressive to get the attention of the seller. In Carcassonne, France, we not only ran into a street market but almost a street fair with demonstrations. They even had animals! It was great. Even in Japan, close to the railroad station near the condo, there was an area with people selling produce. The street market in Cannes, France was delightful. We walked up and down the aisles picking up fruit, bread and cheese and being helped by all the vendors. In Helsinki, Finland, there was a wonderful market and we bought strawberries and sat and ate them as we people-watched.

Market in Helsinki, Finland - July 22, 1996


All of this doesnít make me want to shop the farmerís markets as much as it makes me want to have a garden. Perhaps it is because our father was a farmer, but I get the urge to grow things in the spring. I want to grow cucumbers and tomatoes and radishes and beans and zucchini. Not enough to have a stand but enough for the table. What is better than a sun ripened tomato fresh from the garden?

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