There's something welcoming about the gentle nudge of a vendor at a farmers' market. "Give this a try," from the lips of a vendor at market opens the gateway to myriad taste sensations. After tasting words like "interesting," "um that's good," "wow, is that ever, sweet, tart, fill in the blanks." And the sharing continues as you offer a taste to your shopping partner. "Come on give it a try,” you coax. All of a sudden you feel like a foodie. This is how life is supposed to be lived. Food is supposed to be savored. People are meant to engage in conversation, share recipes, offer tips, make eye contact, say "thank you" ... and mean it.
"Give this a try." That's how, a few years back, I became a fan of the yellow tomato. The organic farmer at the Sheboygan Farmer's Market tucked a yellow tomato into my bag. "Give this a try," she said. The yellow tomato had me at hello. I even started growing my own.
Yesterday a pleasant woman at market sold me on tomatillos. Sure, an over abundance of tomatoes on the counter at home were begging to be made into salsa, but making a batch of tomatillo salsa wouldn't be too much more work. A website was suggested for a great recipe, a few jalapeno peppers offered gratis to round out the salsa, and we were embarking on a new adventure in tomatillo salsa.
I take my farmers' market experience seriously, so was beside myself earlier this summer when I was duped into going to a faux farmers' market at a new grocery store. Pulling into the parking lot it became clear something was awry. Faces of store employees looked out from under the two tents set up in the parking lot. There was not a farmer to be found and the produce was far from locally grown.
"Oh my God! I can't believe it," I railed. "What the ... There are no farmers here. Look there are PINEAPPLES at the Farmers' Market! This is Wisconsin people you can't grow pineapples here." My husband and daughter steadied themselves knowing they hadn't heard the end of it. "They just pulled out produce from inside the store, put it under and tent and called it a farmers' market. I cannot believe it." We drove off disappointed. Veggies and fruit under a tent does not a farmers' market make. I'll take the earth stained hands of a farmer and the produce they've been tending to any day thanks.