Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Bit of Sunshine in a Bite of Fruit

I grew up with fruit as part of the diet. But more importantly getting the best fruit, and vegetables, was part of a way of life. When we lived in San Francisco, grandma and grandpa lived downstairs and we lived upstairs. Bright and early on Saturday morning Grandpa, Dad and I would go to the Farmers Market on Alemany in San Francisco.

We would try to get there before the crowds - 8 am or earlier if we could manage it. We would walk the stalls where farmers were literally selling off the backs of their trucks. The market was made of cement bays where the trucks would backup and could off load boxes or just put down the tail gate.

The farmers would offer their wares, with free tastes to those walking by. If you bought 2 lbs of fresh peas the farmer would add in an extra handful with a big grin. We would buy the weeks fruits and vegetables. When we couldn't carry anymore, we would return to the car. Next to the market was a store that sold primarily to the Mexican community. We would stop for fresh hot corn tortillas and fresh tamales some weeks, as well. During the summer when the anaheim chiles came in, we would buy a couple dozen and make chili rellenos from scratch.

For a while, after we moved down the Peninsula, Dad and I would get up early and go to the market during the summer months. It was the only time I ever saw my Dad unshaven. We would leave around 6:30 am and return laden with produce by 9 am.

Nothing beats fresh! I am pleased to see the small farmers markets opening up all over. Our local one is open 9-2 on Saturdays May to November. But it just isn't the same some how. Little can compete with all the bustle and wonderful smells of fresh produce of a large farmers market.

Now back to my bowl of fruit - a white nectarine, 2 apricots, 5 black mission figs, 6 plump strawberries - the ones with the fragile skins that never get near a grocery store, and a handful of rasberries so plump they fall apart and squish if you look at them crosswise.