Ode to Market
by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence
I shall visit thee on a summer’s day
Though art so lovely and pleasant
As our rough winter winds are gone by May
And summer’s short lease is here today.
Sometimes too eager my eye does shine
On beet’s golden complexion, the cuke’s shiny skin,
On every fair tomato fresh from the vine,
Impervious to the rush of people and din.
The summer’s garden beauties do not fade,
For in my basket they will not long be housed,
Children’s hands my loot will raid,
Their appetites and cravings aroused.
So long as I breathe, you see,
So long as Market be,
Market gives life to me.
What can I say? I am an English major turned foodie… It’s not long before the two were bound to collide… (sorry, Shakespeare) I love poetry and I do feel quite poetic as I stroll down the isles of a farmer’s market… Just ask my kids – they tend to roll their eyes as I wax on about the fragrant strawberries, the dewy tomatoes and the crisp cucumbers. (Alright, I do – I confess…) But, really can you blame me? I am a child of the balmy Middle East, who has spent the last twenty-six of her life in MINNESOTA! (Where has the time gone?) Not a region known for balmy weather… This year we have surpassed 50 days of below ZERO temperatures – I have to express my angst somehow, as I transformed into a winter hardy Minnesotan.
So, what do hardy Minnesotans do when they crave a Farmers’ Market in snowy February? They head indoors! After all we did invent the indoor shopping experience – the first mall. (I don’t know, should we brag about that???) Mill City Farmers’ Market is located in Downtown Minneapolis in an old train station used for grain transportation, now housing the Mill City Museum. (http://millcityfarmersmarket.org/visit-the-market/winter-markets-2013-2014/). During winter, on every second Saturday, the central hall fills with vendors, shoppers and families, all looking to treat their raging cabin fevers.
Though lacking in fresh produce, you can get your fix for the market feel, as you sample goat cheese, granola, Triple Crown award winning BBQ sauce, Ames Farms honey and my favorite: Kiss My Cabbage – Kimchi. Another awesome find is precious lamb’s wool woven into yarn from Star Thrower’s Farm – the warmest infinity scarf I have ever knitted! Great yarn and fabulous yogurt too!
For those of us with rumbling tummies there are plenty of choices! Our own Tastemaker Brenda Langton’s restaurant, Spoonriver, is near by and she also has a crepe stand right in the market: savory or sweet! How perfect is that? Other choices include pastries and coffees as well.
Lucky me, I was afforded another venue for my foodie obsession. This winter my snowbird mother in law took pity on me and invited me to Naples Florida. No need to guess what my first stop was, right? Factor in 86-degree weather, Florida sunshine and you have produce heaven… I followed my nose to find these strawberries, no kidding! And what would a trip to a Floridian Farmers’ Market without freshly squeezed orange juice? SO sweet and delicious!
We followed that with purchasing some mangos, pondering dragon fruit and munching on mini key lime tarts (of course!). We washed it all down with a made to order smoothie of mango, pineapple and bananas with fresh ginger.
Back at home in Minnesota now, believe it or not, we are still dealing with the latest snowfall. However, I am not as disheartened as one might expect… the Twin Cities Open Air markets will be open in several short weeks and those are GLORIOUS! My kitchen is ready, my canning supplies have been inventoried and my recipes to try list has been compiled.
Let the summer begin! Bring it on!