May 2000

Farmers’ Market Report

After buying a box of cherries and filling one bag with grapefruit (16 @ 4/$1.00) during an initial swoop on the Hamadas (the only vendors I know who still have a few of the old Marsh variety trees yielding the old, sour white grapefruit) and seeing the worried look on their faces when I inquired whether they would have more the following weekend, I took the bag back to my car. Realizing that I didn’t have enough money for one of Mrs. Hoffman’s smoked duck breasts and everything else, I stopped by the ATM on Battery Street. Recharged, I returned to the market, stopping first at Hoffman’s. Alas, there had been a very early run on the duck breasts, so I had to make do with one of their chickens, which I had planned to roast pretty much naked tonight, dressed only in a little salt and pepper. When you’ve got a chicken that fine, you don’t want to do too much to it.

Then on to my quark boy at Oakdale Cheese for one of his quark brownies to nibble for breakfast. While nibbling, I discovered a nice girl with the first peaches, which, for the first peaches, even filtered through the brownie, were ambrosial. So I got a bag. And then to my potato girl, where I picked up a few German Butterballs, Van Mourik’s for three pounds of almonds for my cousin, and back to the Hamadas for another sixteen grapefruit. Dropped in at Medina’s to continue establishing myself with the Ferry Plaza crew as a Serious Customer, for whom the Good Stuff should be put back.

Medina’s is the perfect example of Thom Gunn’s theory of Beauty Drain, which is similar to Brain Drain except that it’s beauty draining to the coasts. I was a regular for years at Medina’s at the San Mateo farmers’ market, and I bought my berries by the flat there. Like almost all the other vendors in San Mateo, my berry man was nondescript. Not so at Medina’s at Ferry Plaza, where the salespeople are as carefully picked as the produce, all fair youths and maidens gay (in the old sense, dammit), cheerful, bright, and squeaky clean except for maybe the tiniest hint of dirt under the nails for authenticity.

Finally, the obligatory stop at my cactus/succulent guy, pumping him for propagation information and purchasing a Lobivia arachnacantha to replace one of my Failures. It’s covered with buds, so we shall see…..

Returning home, I picked up some Clover/Stornetta heavy cream for the peaches, and as I was unpacking everything, ate the ripest peach out of hand. Then I cut up the second ripest in a bowl, added an equal volume of cereal, a bit of sugar, and milk and heavy cream. Ohh, heaven. Then I examined the cherries. The variety is Brooks, one I’d not eaten. They are, or actually were, since I ate all of them during the examination process, a nice medium red, big, perhaps the biggest cherry I’ve ever seen, and shaped like miniature pumpkins, a little flattened. Wonderfully tart and sweet. Then I needed some meat, so I dug into the freezer and found an ancient pair of desiccated Italian sausages, which I fried up and ate with another peach and some fresh chèvre. By then, it was lunchtime, but I was exhausted and crawled into bed.

I awoke at five, had a large bowl of cereal with two peaches and cream, and came in here to write this. I think I’ll go back to bed now and cook that chicken tomorrow.

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