Wisdom Comes Suddenly

A Culinary Summer, Volume Three

June 20th, 2012 · 8 Comments

This post, much like Volume One, is equally inspired by Karen Le Billon’s, French Kids Eat Everything. Just as France has a “food culture” worth connecting to, so does America.  It’s easy enough to simply state ours is a culture of fast food and obesity, but I would argue that premise isn’t very…cultured.  It’s habit.  Bad, bad habit.  Inside our borders, we indeed have a thriving food culture, bubbling all around us.  I’ve found the best way to connect to food is to go TO THE FOOD.  Not at the grocery stores, unfortunately, where very little food is sold. There are many things in boxes and bags.  Aisles and aisles, in fact, but it isn’t food.  Author Le Billon makes the argument that while those boxes are filled with calories, they are not filled with nutrition.  Um…you think?  Stop.  Let’s not get me started down that path today.  Today, we celebrate.

Some Farmer’s Markets are cheap, but alas, I’ve found that most are not.  Still, when I’m looking for food inspiration, nothing beats walking from stall to stall and asking growers about their produce.  Honey pollen can be used to treat allergies.  Patty-pans are super cute summer squash which will meet my frying pan tonight (lower left corner of the picture above).  Mitch and his daughter Danielle sell the world’s best lemonade. Try roasting some fingerling potatoes this week with a few fresh herbs…it will change your religion about ugly, little potatoes.  Who has an aversion to ugly, little potatoes?  I’ll admit it: I did.  But now I search for them like hidden treasures.

Over time, I’ve learned the natural rhythm of when things come in season, so I never miss my favorites.  I start calling the strawberry farmer’s in late May.  Blueberries will be turned into jam around the 4th of July.  English Peas come and go in the blink of an eye in early June, depending on the variety, most coming in a bit earlier.  Indiana Peaches are unfortunately not my favorite crop, but I can turn them into jam in mid-July.  Lodi apples are in now, and it’s a short season as well.  I turn them into a recipe with pork loins that can be frozen, assuring I’ll have my favorite tart apples paired with a sage-cornbread stuffing for months to come.

I never tire of asking questions.  Of teasing the corn on the cob guys who stand in the sweltering heat, grilling corn in the husk and dipping it in butter. They charge an INSANE amount of money ($2.50 a cob!), and people line up 8 deep to pay for it. It’s worth every penny.  I never miss saying hello to the Harvest Moon Flower Farmers.  Of wandering off the hot street into the cool City Market to inhale our corn while looking over the now crowded historic space.  We usually find we need just one more thing inside.  A mini hot pretzel (they are not so “mini”, but are the best prices in town).  Maybe we need to linger at the French food stand or the Greek restaurant. Sometimes we just stand, close our eyes, smell, and try to guess what might be near.  Jumbo’s? Papa Roux’s?  The vintage jewelry store always draws the girls in.  The florist arranges the most beautiful roses, and the girls swear they’ll someday own a shop that sells nothing but daisies and roses.  Then there is the mandatory begging over the rows and rows of pastries and cookies. So much of the begging.

I don’t know how the city did it, but yet again, the City Market has risen from the ashes.  It’s once again full, bustling, and a truly diverting place to be.  Parking sucks.  The heat sucks.  It’s naive to assume connecting to food will be convenient or cheap.  BUT, tonight there will be unbelievably fresh green beans, cornmeal fried patty-pans, and herb roasted chicken for dinner.  Connecting to that plate of food makes it worth our efforts.  I hope you are enjoying our “Culinary Summer” adventures.  Wish you could join us at the table tonight!


Tags: The Girls

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Karin W // Jun 21, 2012 at 7:46 am

    mmm…fingerling potatoes… so sweet! wish my kids would eat them – 1 doesn’t like potatoes at all (that’s fine – I never force starches on them), the other 2 don’t eat the skins… makes tiny, funny shaped potatoes a difficult sell!
    I miss my CSA and I haven’t been to our farmer’s markets recently – they changed around the schedule and I forget what it is and show up at the wrong times!

  • 2 The Momma // Jun 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

    It seems these days it’s more “textures” people don’t like, over taste. My sister cannot eat anything mushy, especially potatoes. I quarter and roast them, and she seems to like them that way. I wish my kids would hate candy.

  • 3 Teresa // Jun 21, 2012 at 9:42 am

    YUM! I love me some corn on the cob too!

  • 4 Lydia // Jun 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Oh, we ARE enjoying your Culinary Summer adventures! Please keep doing them! You are so inspiring to me!

  • 5 The Momma // Jun 21, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I’m so glad! Lydia, you’re going to LOVE my “these dishes are all wrong” volume! I’ll give you a hint: it involves your favorite decorating color: WHITE.

  • 6 Sarah // Jun 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Lori – I love your culinary summer adventures. Just today I had to have multiple biopsies as I have 3 new masses and they need to rule out or confirm cancer. The technician and I were talking about sugar feeding cancer cells. My past two weeks have scared me so badly I am ready to be closer to the food I eat. I appreciate your wisdom regarding healthier food choices.

  • 7 The Momma // Jun 22, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Sarah! Oh no! I hate the word “masses”. I just hate that word. It always sounds so ominous. They call mine “lesions”. She has a suspicion lesion. Equally SUCK word. Yep, cancer loves sugar. I think our DNA hates fake food. And I supplement with Juice Plus vitamins to try and boost my overall intake of real stuff. I wish for you every healthy lab report in the world. I’m stopping now to pray for you. Hugs.

  • 8 Sarah // Jun 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Lori, Thank you so much for the prayers and hugs. I can feel them here in Wisconsin! Really, I can! You are so inspiring and hearing that you emerged stronger gives me much hope for whatever the results turn out to be. I am very interested in the Juice Plus vitamins. I see this as my major wake up call to get healthier. I will email you when I get the results. I thank you so much for prayers. I hope to know something early next week.