I thought we wouldn’t be able to go marketing this week. I assumed that most stallholders would be doing Easter things and that there would be no market. But when I hopped online on Friday to see if there was a Saturday market in our area, I saw that our usual Sunday market venue was going ahead, so this morning, after a hard night as a soprano partying on the descants with the Catholics, I put on my churchgoing clothes again to head off to the market before my more restrained appearance as an alto at the Protestant morning service. With perhaps one gratuitous descant, because what is Easter without a good descant?
…If you think this is an awful lot of churchgoing (and singing), especially for someone who really isn’t sure what she believes in (apart from singing), let me assure you that this year’s collection was actually quite light compared to some years – just those two services, plus helping lead the Way of the Cross through Melbourne. No Maundy Thursday service, no Anglican Tenebrae service, and only one Easter vigil. When you sing in as many church choirs as I do, this is positively minimalist. I may have to sneak along to an Evensong which I’m not singing in tonight, just to cover all my ecumenical bases…
Anyway, to the market we went, where we found that, in fact, an awful lot of the farmers were indeed doing Easter things this weekend, but that on the bright side, there was a chap with a guitar singing ‘Old Macdonald Had A Farm’, and also, the pie merchant was back from a long absence. Just in time for the end of Lent, huzzah! We bought meat pies for lunch, and more as a present for the tenor in my choir who does like his pies and who has been driving me around to all these Easter sings. Lovely, lovely pies with *meat* in them. This particular Lent has turned me into a raging carnivore, at least for now.
The sourdough bread man had hot cross buns, which do not appear in any photographs because we ate them as we walked around the various stalls to see what was there. The next stop after the pies was the tomato lady, because I had spotted eggplants, and have plans for ratatouille to accompany our Easter lamb roast this evening.
We had a long chat about things to do with eggplants, and a friend of hers who is vegan, and I’ve promised her recipes, and possibly an exchange of vegan baked goods for tomatoes and eggplants sometime. I also shamelessly plugged my blog, so hello, Jindivick Tomato Lady if you are reading this! I assure you, your eggplants are going to a Very Good Home indeed.
I wanted some root veggies to go with my lamb roast (lamb roast! I get to have lamb roast!), so we headed to the organic veg stall – the only generalist vegetable stall there today – for potatoes and, as it turned out celeriac. Which I can’t quite decide whether I like, but which is nonetheless appealing for its habit of reminding me of one ofLe Petit Prince’s baobabs.
I’m still rather rich in carrots from last time, so I decided to take the path of sanity and not get more carrots, but I couldn’t resist buying a spaghetti squash. I’ve only cooked spaghetti squash once before, and it wasn’t a success, but there is something absolutely fascinating about a vegetable that you cook whole, open up, and then turn into spaghetti-like strands with a fork. One should never pass up the opportunity to cook with a food that doubles as a toy.
I was magnetically drawn to the bright yellow zucchini, as well as the broccoli, so I got some of each. And I haven’t cooked beetroot for a while, so I decided to get some of the stripey stuff, as well as some rainbow chard, because hey, they’re all part of the same family and should be allowed to play together. Especially when they are wearing such a fabulous array of colours.
Of course, the whole point of autumn at the farmers’ market, at least in my view, is quinces. There’s just something about quinces that I can’t resist. I quite like the taste of them, of course, but I think the true delight of them is their long, slow cooking time, which scents the whole house with this floral, fruity aroma that is just wonderful. And I love their slow change in colour and texture from woody and yellow-green through a pinkish orange to deep ruby and meltingly soft. I don’t know what I’m going to do with these particular quinces yet – I had these ideas about middle-eastern roast lamb with quinces, but my guests this evening have a quince tree and are rather overwhelmed with the things, so I think it would be a bit cruel to feed them more quinces just when they think they’ve escaped.
What I might do is something really decadent, like putting them in a really low oven overnight and having them for breakfast with yoghurt. Imagine waking up to the smell of roasted quinces in the morning… complete autumn indulgence…