Today’s Farmers’ Market was a challenge, because every single one of my favourite veggie people were there, and they all had glorious, beautiful things. This is normally my market off-week, too, which only makes it worse – I’m not supposed to be buying all the vegetables in the world… and yet I can’t seem to help myself.
Also, it turns out that I can’t walk past an oddly-shaped or coloured zucchini. This may prove to be a problem…
The rot set in at the very first stall, really. John from Wild Dog had his beautiful strawberries and garlic as usual, but he also had beautiful, bright yellow zucchini! There’s just something about yellow zucchini that is irresistible – it’s such a good yellow, all sunshiney and bright and warm, and I just smile looking at it.
I then quizzed John on what his most exciting potatoes were that day. He didn’t seem to know exactly how one should answer such a question, but eventually affirmed that the Pink Eye potatoes are the most exciting as far as he is concerned, because of their deep, earthy flavour. Myself, I am a little concerned about anyone who would name a potato after conjunctivitis, but this probably isn’t the fault either of John or of the potatoes. We duly bought a bag of pink-eyes to go with our berries and garlic and gloriously yellow zucchini.
The next stall along had type of blackberry whose name I can’t for the life of me remember, and the internet doesn’t seem to know either. It’s a rather sour variety that makes one’s teeth feel furry after one bits into it, but good. I could see it going really well in a sort of Eton Mess arrangement, balancing the sweetness of the meringues and the rich cream nicely.
The stallholder also had little punnets of mixed herbs and garlic – I thought it was a bouquet garni, but she said she would use it in a salad, too. The punnets had sprigs of several kinds of mint, mint, thyme, sage, lemongrass, rosemary, and a couple of herbs I couldn’t identify. The garlic is apparently a mild variety (it would have to be if she’s using it in salad and in that quantity!). I think, though, that I will disregard her advice and put it in a chicken to slow cook on Thursday while I’m at my course.
I then forced myself to walk past several stalls – including the chocolate stall! – without buying anything, but soon found myself in front of Rita’s stall, and a display of zucchini flowers. Zucchini flowers are of course even better than yellow zucchini, and are possibly the most beautiful vegetable in the world. One does have to eat them fairly fast, though – we’re having them stuffed for dinner tonight, with spinach, herbs and ricotta on the inside and a tomatoey sauce on the outside. And bread rolls, because I felt like making bread.
Rita also had a zucchini.
Apparently, it’s proper name is a tromboncini zucchini, and yes, it is supposed to be that size, but I think of it more along the lines of a blunt instrument. It certainly weighs several kilos and could do some serious damage if you hit someone with it. Or if you tried to eat it at one sitting. I asked Rita what one does with such a mammoth vegetable, and she assured me that sautéeing it in olive oil and then freezing it for later would work. I’m honestly not quite sure what my plans for it are (zucchini cake, perhaps?), but there was no way I could fail to buy it. I finished up with some sprouting broccoli, which I will use in pasta with sausage balls and broccoli later in the week, and moved on to investigate the tomato stall next door.
We haven’t seen Jindivick Tomatoes this season, I gather due to a death in the family, but they were out in force today, with tomatoes of many sizes, beautiful long red frying peppers, shiny eggplant and yellow and orange capsicums. Not to mention herbs, cucumber, and many, many other things. Conscious of my dwindling budget, I skipped the herbs and cucumber this time, and started thinking thoughts of ratatouille…
Besides, I didn’t have to get herbs there, because the stall next door was the beautiful green herb and leafy things stall that I also haven’t seen for about a year. I could smell the coriander from about three stalls away, so we got some of that, and some basil, to go with all those tomatoes.
I’ve been craving my mushroom sandwich for a while, so mushrooms were the next thing on my list, which left be with almost no money and four stalls that I still wanted to visit. Oh dear.
I decided that what I needed most at this point was rhubarb, so I headed for the colourful veggie stall, to see what they had. They did indeed have rhubarb – and onions, which I also needed. And spinach, to go in my zucchini flowers. And green beans…
They also had zucchini! And not just any zucchini, but about eight varieties – yellow, dark green, yellow with pale green bases, striped green and white, little pattypans in yellow and green, and big round zucchini in both white, which I’ve actually grown myself in the past, and yellow, which I’ve never seen before.
Did I mention I can’t walk past a new and interesting form of zucchini? Not only did I buy them, I actually overspent my market budget in order to do so. I think I have a zucchini problem.
After that, it was necessary to escape before I either bought cakes or more zucchini. I’m not sure which would be worse at this point (our house is very full of sweets, still). It was actually interesting getting to lay everything out on the table when I got home – not only did I have far more zucchini than I’d realised (oops), I also found that I hadn’t bought anything ready-made this time. – or even anything that wasn’t a vegetable or a fruit. Usually, I’ll get pasta, or a pizza base, or maybe some eggs or goat chorizo – this time, the fruit and vegetables were so stunning that nothing else was needed.
I’m never going to really love summer, but I can’t fail to appreciate its produce.
Especially the zucchini…