Farmers’ Market Post: Tiny apples and giant mushrooms

It says something for my current state of mind that I can barely remember the Farmers’ Market from Sunday.  It was that sort of weekend.  But I do have a fridge full of gloriously autumnal vegetables, and a dim memory of people in carrot suits and lots of chatting about raw food with John from Wild Dog Produce, so I was obviously there in body, if not in mind…


In fact, our first stop was indeed Wild Dog Produce, to buy Red La Soda potatoes for baking for the Eurovision party, and garlic because we just love garlic.  We chatted about the new market in Coburg (attended by John’s wife, Ally), and the general trend for farmers’ markets.  John suggested that as a food blogger I might have some ideas about food trends, but I told him that I rather suspect I am an outlier living in allergy-friendly and vegan food land.  Then again, outliers like me may well be a large part of the Farmers’ Market regular population…

I love how this looks like a natural rock formation, or something.  I think the garlic bulb is rock climbing.  Or possibly orating to the garlic clove congregation below.

I love how this looks like a natural rock formation, or something. I think the garlic bulb is rock climbing. Or possibly orating to the garlic clove congregation below.

Next door to Wild Dog was the berry and jam stall.  The stallholder knows by now that we are not allowed to buy jam this month (I have no secrets from anyone.  The checkout chicks at my local supermarkets regularly ask me about what cakes I’m making.  I can’t tell if this makes me a very tedious customer or a mild point of interest in an otherwise dull job…), but she did have limes, which I needed for my margarita mousse and my salsa.  We bought some.  And then felt weird about spending $1 at a stall.

The limes are excited!  So very excited!  They are the cheerleaders of the vegetable world and they have heard the word of the garlic and are ready to go out into the fruitbowl and tell the good news to the heathen tomatoes!

The limes are excited! So very excited! They are the cheerleaders of the vegetable world and they have heard the word of the garlic and are ready to go out into the fruitbowl and tell the good news to the heathen tomatoes!  There will be singing!  And dancing!  And exclamation marks!!  Because what these limes have is zest for life!!!

Our next stop was, of course, Rita’s stall, this time staffed by her daughter.  I was immediately seduced by the giant purple cauliflowers, newly in season and so very gorgeous.  And better than cauliflower – the little broccoli heads with stems and leaves that are so wonderful for broccoli and sausage pasta.  And everything else in the world – they are smaller and sweeter than traditional broccoli, and much faster to prepare, because you just slice the dry bit off the bottom of the stem, and then just chop the whole lot up, leaves, stalks and all, with no worries about peeling or anything else.  Delicious.


The purple cauliflower knows he is beautiful, and rises out of the baby broccoli like a Romanian counter-tenor on a plinth, but with less singing. (Cauliflower only sing at night, in tiny, cauliflower voices. With the fridge door shut, you can hardly hear them at all as they pass on their oral history to the other vegetables in the crisper…)

She also had the very last tomatoes of the season, and probably the last of the peppers, too.  I bought two bags of tomatoes for my version of tinned tomatoes, which is really just tomatoes peeled, cored and then stewed very slowly in their juices and a little salt for an hour or two, before boxing them up and freezing them, because I don’t have canning equipment, and I’m a bit scared of getting the bottling process wrong and poisoning people.


Sweet peppers burrowing into the tomato pile for warmth. In this late autumn weather, the mediterranean vegetables have to stick close together to protect themselves and each other from the cold. Beneath these communal nests, baby peppers and tomatoes incubate, ready to hatch out when the weather heats up. Male tomatoes, being smaller than the female of their kind, are generally responsible for incubating their young, while the female tomatoes and peppers go hunting for food.

Now that we are going to markets weekly, I’m also buying more of my everyday vegetables there – I haven’t quite achieved my aim of buying all my veg at markets yet, but I’m getting close.  So Rita and Tony’s lovely onions were a must – I go through about a bag of onions a week.


The spiral dance of the onion family is one of the lesser-known rituals of the vegetable world. Generally, onions migrate into the desert before performing this sacred and very private act. Spiral dancing is rarely seen among domestic onions.

Pausing only to collect a couple of fennel bulbs and some cardoons, I tore myself away before I spent all my money at a single stall.  And then I wandered around the market for a bit, wondering why nothing else was quite so exciting…


… nope, I’ve got nothing. Though I suspect the mushrooms drive a Mercedes.

Oh, alright.  The giant mushrooms were exciting.  Giant mushrooms are always exciting.

We moseyed across to the colourful vegetables stall where they had corn and coriander, two key ingredients for my corn and mango salsa plans.  Mango and avocado, it seemed, was out of season – none of the usual stalls had them.  I wonder if I will ever get the hang of what is seasonal in Victoria?  It really is very random.


Oh, you didn’t think I was going to make some sort of corny pun here, did you?

I did pick up some colourful carrots and rainbow chard, though.  There’s something rather irresistible about rainbow chard…


The colourful tail of the rainbow chard is thought to be used to attract chard of the opposite sex. The varied plumage is thought to be indicative of the chard’s HLA type, and thus chard bunches (which mate for life) are generally quite heterogenous in appearance, increasing the chances of passing on a healthy immune complex to the next generation.

The apple stall next to the colourful vegetable stall had tiny, sweet apples of a variety I hadn’t tasted before.  Can I remember the name of that variety?  Of course I can’t!  But I bought ten little apples anyway, on the grounds that we’d probably want something healthy to eat after all those Eurovision desserts.


See that apple on the right? The one with slightly feral eyes? What, you mean you *can’t* see the feral eyes? Well then, I suppose I can’t help you. But if I were you, I’d stick to the apples on the left…

The pasta stall had a whole range of pre-made pasta bakes, including a vegetarian moussaka and shells stuffed with walnut and spinach filling.  I dithered a long time over these, before deciding on gnocchi instead.  There’s nothing sadder in the food world than a bad pasta bake, and every time I buy one made by someone else, I’ve been reminded of this tragic fact…


Look, there just isn’t so much you can say about gnocchi.  Unless you want to get a knock at the door late one night…

I still had money left – an unprecedented situation, but what with not being permitted to buy dried fruit at present, not needing eggs or meat, and really, really not needing to buy cake, that’s how it was.  So I returned to the Wild Dog Stall to treat myself to some of their frozen strawberries – the fresh kind are gone now until spring…


The thing to remember about frozen strawberries is that when you revive them, they will only remember the things that happened before they were frozen. And, in fact, some of them will have amnesia about events leading directly to the freezing incident. Patience is required when counselling these berries.

Oxfam had a bunch of people wandering around the market dressed as peas and carrots, encouraging people to take photos of themselves at a Farmers’ Market as part of their Grow campaign.  Since we keep seeing them at different markets, I considered asking if I could have my photo taken with a carrot or a pea, but I then decided it would be more fun to take my photo in front of the Wild Dog Produce stall.


Me, in front of the Wild Dog stall, with John in the background looking bemused…  and he hasn’t even read what I’ve been writing about these vegetables!

After which it was time for me to head off to choir, and then home to chilli and salsa and guacamole and a frightening number of desserts.  And photograph a lot of vegetables, of course…



Two years ago: Review: Less Meat, More Veg, by Rachel de Thample

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2 comments for “Farmers’ Market Post: Tiny apples and giant mushrooms

  1. splodgenoodles
    May 23, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    Ooh, I want to know about the apples! Any chance they were Snowies?

    • Catherine
      May 24, 2013 at 10:04 am

      No, definitely not snowies. Sorry, I can remember what they weren’t, but not what they were…

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