It’s Saturday; let’s not make this complicated.
We’ll start with some (possibly boring) background, hit the main point, and then get on with recipes and menu suggestions, the way Saturdays used to go around here. Fair enough?
At the market this morning, I went first to the butter and egg man (too late, eggs all gone) and then straight to my tomato people. Almost every farmer has tomatoes on display at this time of year, but I’m particularly fond of one particular farmer, from whom I’ve been buying tomatoes since before the local neighborhood market was as popular (and crowded) as it has become. All of her produce is good, year-round, and her tomatoes are reliably ripe but not overripe, and unblemished, because she culls them by hand and offers only the prettiest ones for sale.
One of her crew members is a young woman who helped take care of my children when they were little. She was in school then, as I recall, working at a child care center for both income and practical experience in her field of study. She was one of my son’s favorite teachers. She finished school, went on to other things, and we lost touch. I saw her in the grocery a few years later, with her young son in tow. She called across the cereal aisle to say hello and ask how the children were doing. I remember being surprised by how she asked specific questions, referenced details that most people wouldn’t have retained.
And then, one day, there she was at the market, working with the farmer who would become my reliable favorite. We shared photos of our children, and I was again struck by the things she remembered about my children and me from years prior. It’s an odd quirk that I notice and recognize because I have, as one friend dubbed it, “the weird elephant memory,” and like knows like.
So this morning, after missing the eggs and heading to the tomatoes, I waited in line (proud to see all of the masked faces) for a few minutes, then stepped to open slot at the table to talk to the farmer, who did a little dance (“because why not dance?” she said) and asked what I needed today. Her table was busy, so I was prepared: Three pints of cherry tomatoes (one of each variety), two quarts of San Marzanos, and a bunch of basil (please and thank you).
While she, the farmer, was putting the tomatoes in a paper bag, her associate, the young woman I’ve described above, said, to me: “You forgot your Sun Golds last time; you left them on the table.”
I must have had a puzzled look on my face in response, because she continued: “Yeah, you were going out of town so you wanted just one of the Sun Golds. But you put the big tomatoes in your bag and left the pint on the table.”
“Great!” the farmer said. “So I’ll just charge you for the two pints, the San Marzanos, and the basil.” I helped her get the paste tomatoes into a bag (“Team work’s dream work!” she said, with a little jig), and she sent me on my way for the week.
And that’s why buying from local farmers at the market, every Saturday, is just completely awesome, even when the glaciers are melting, Siberia is burning, Afghanistan is collapsing, and there was another earthquake in Haiti. Oh, and COVID, dammit. But here we are, the lucky ones; so let’s keep going.
Food | August 14, 2021
I’ll make simple salads with those lovely little tomatoes (if I don’t eat all of them just straight from the bag), until I run out. This farro/tomato/cucumber/basil salad from The Kitchn is a no-brainer – easy to modify and adapt, good any time of the day. If I make it to the international market for a jar of preserved lemons, then I might up the salad game a notch and try this Persian salad recipe from Eating Well. Also tempting: Vietnamese Tomato Salad (bon appetit).
With school starting, and with this being my last year of making school-night dinners (might write about that one day…), I’ve been particularly focused on what my daughter will enjoy eating. Her current favorite thing? Salmon, something I’ve struggled for years to prepare without overcooking. Thanks to a recommendation from a cooking friend, I relented and bought this non-stick skillet from Made In (happy birthday to me!), and I cannot overstate the difference it has made in my ability to produce consistent results. Also helpful: A great tutorial from Florence Fabricant (NYT Cooking – probably paywalled, but I promise it’s worth the subscription price).
Since she also has a strong affection for fried mozzarella sticks, I might give these mozzarella fritters a try (and see if I can persuade her to incorporate the salad…).
In a surprising development, one night last week she asked for ramen. Ramen. Luckily, that adorable Kenji Lopez-Alt had some suggestions.
See you tomorrow. It will be about food again. Raspberry pinwheel cookies. No joke.
This post is 5/56 in a self-directed challenge to write something (SOMETHING) every day – a birthday gift to me from me, because writing gives me a place to put the clutter that lives in my head.