This will be another short, pictorial post, because grants season at work is reaching its hideous climax, with everything falling due on Wednesday or Thursday this week. I’m still working crazy hours, and dream of grant writing by night… but at least there is light at the end of the tunnel, and at least I got to go to the market today! Even in my current zombie state, the market is a good thing (I wander around muttering ‘piiiiees… piiieees.’ Or sometimes ‘muuutant veeeeegggiiies…’). And if my dessert for tomorrow works, I might even have a recipe for you on Tuesday, though I have to say the omens are currently not good.
Stonefruit guy had the last of the plums and the nectarines today. Andrew doesn’t eat either of these things, and buying a kilo of them to eat on my own is a bit of a commitment, so I decided to get some of his little jars of bottled fruit instead.
Besides, they were really cute.
I then shuffled my way over to the Colourful Veggie stall, where I saw this.
Apparently, it’s a bitter melon, and looking at it, I can’t help wondering if this is what Roald Dahl had in mind when he wrote about Snozzcumbers. True, it isn’t black and white, but it is undeniably warty, and I am informed it is very, very, mouth-puckeringly bitter. I am told that one cuts it in half to remove the seeds, slices it, and then stir-fries it, skin and all. In all honesty, I don’t expect to like it at all, but I feel kind of morally obliged to at least try it. It looks far too weird not to be investigated more closely.
Having amused the stall-holder with my horrified delight in this new and bizzarre vegetable, I then went on with my more regular purchases – miniature leeks and eggplants, plump little carrots in two colours, tomatoes in four colours, rhubarb, basil, and some rocket. I try to spread my custom around the vegetable stalls, but this one really is so good and so inviting that it’s difficult to pay attention to all the others.
They had a wild green I have never seen before but may be called Fat Hen (there were definitely hens involved, but I was so distracted by the alien melon that I really didn’t take much else on board). It’s rather nice, actually – it has a slightly peppery sweetness, somewhere between rocket and spinach, with a dash of cucumber. I hope they have it again so that I can find out what it is called and buy it in future expeditions.
I also bought a large butternut pumpkin, my first of the season. We aren’t really into the oranges of true autumn yet, but there is a definite 1970s vibe to some of the colour schemes…
The tomato lady was back, with plump, shiny eggplants that are positively begging for some special treatment. I think I’ll stuff them. Much later in the week. She also had red and orange capsicums and, of course, tomatoes. Lovely. Though, interestingly, I’ve never yet seen really happy looking capsicums at one of these markets – several stallholders carry them occasionally, but they tend to be a bit on the dusty-looking side (though still tasty). I wonder if we just don’t have a good climate for them in Victoria?
And speaking of Victoria’s climate, the potato man told us, laconically, that they’d had ‘just a bit too much water’ up his way. From the way he said it, my impression was that his farm wasn’t *quite* flooded, but had not really improved on contact with the floods, either. He still had a good range, though. I bought golden delight potatoes, because I haven’t tried them before, and my usual strawberries and garlic. I have a lot of pink marshmallows to use up (long story), and have plans for a rather unnatural strawberry and white chocolate mousse cake.
The egg man is still very excited about his new chickens. Their eggs are a bit smaller than the others (because the hens are younger), and they are cheaper, but he still seemed a bit disappointed when I wen for the slightly larger eggs from the less novel chickens with the less inspiring view.
No pizza or pasta today, but there was a pie man, who had, in addition to a whole lot of lovely meat pies that I can’t have, a roasted vegetable and chickpea pie (for Tuesday after my singing lesson) and an apple and rhubarb pie (currently in the oven). Definitely a win.
And the other vegetable lady I like had rather beautiful wild fennel and broccoli, which I haven’t bought in months (having been gorgeing on all the lovely summer mediterranean vegetables), so I snapped up some of each.
All of which left me with five dollars and a sudden attack of the raging zombies, so we went back to the cupcake stall and bought a red velvet cupcake for me (sugar + food-colouring + chocolate = enough energy to see me through choir) and a chocolate orange cupcake for Andrew. But there is no photographic evidence of this, because we ate them pretty much immediately.
And that was that. I think we’ll be saying goodbye to the stonefruit next time, but that’s OK – I’m already hanging out for quinces and chestnuts and autumn things, and hopefully the eggplants will be around for just a little bit longer…
Finally, one unrelated plug. My workplace does a lot of leukemia and lymphoma research, so we tend to field teams for the World’s Greatest Shave on a regular basis. I’m colouring my hair this year – this Thursday, in fact – because I have to do something to make this entire grant application situation more amusing for myself and others, and I’d love it if you would sponsor me! There will be pictures, I promise, though my hair is pretty dark so it might not be as dramatic as I would like. I’ve been shamelessly extorting / blackmailing money out of my scientists on the grounds that I’m helping them put together grants on leukemia and the least they can do is donate money to a worthy cause, and my skin is so thick now that I have no hesitation in batting my eyelashes at you, my lovely readers, and asking you to donate as well.
(If I get to $5,000 – which is very unlikely – I will shave. Andrew would much rather I didn’t, hence the high premium. I suspect I would also much rather I didn’t, but if I get that many donations, I’ll feel guilty about just colouring, so…)