One of the most fun thing to do at a farmer’s market for me is to talk up the vendors. They talk about the flavors of one veggie compared to another on their table. They joke and they have stories. They’ll let you know when the lettuce in front of you was picked. They’ll make sure you know that if they don’t have it, they can get it for you.
But, what I really like about chatting up stall vendors is that they know they best ways to eat what they’re selling. They’ve put the time into testing and retesting then tasting and re-tasting their produce to be able to tell you what way it should be prepared. And, let’s be honest. Who better would know how a veggie should be prepared than the people whose livelihood depends on its delicious conclusion? No one, that’s who.
For the most part, these veggies, fruits, and plants are commonly known. But, once in awhile, there are things sold at markets that just do not fit into what you’d normally find.
I took the time to ask some of my co-workers what they’ve found at their local markets and I was surprised at what they said.
Campus & Project Support Assistant, Hannah K. talked about what she’s found at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. “The one thing that I saw that was really neat were air plants.”
I had never heard of this before, but Hannah said they’re really cool. They’re a plant that doesn’t need any soil to survive. In fact, all you really need to do is mist them daily in the summer and only once a week in the winter months.
Hannah continued, “The care I was told to do was actually to submerge the plant in water for 10 minutes and then prop it on a paper towel for 4 hours. With the higher humidity in the summer, I’ve found I don’t need to care for it at all and in the winter, I cheat. My air plant is in a container with a lid, so I take the lid off when I think of it and let it breathe. It’s perfectly happy that way.”
Janis R, our HR Manager, told me about her local farmer’s market down in the Florida panhandle. The market was full of cool stuff, but what she liked the most were a pair of earrings made out of beer bottle caps.
When I took a trip to Greece with my beautiful wife in 2014, we made it to a large bi-
weekly market. Among the normal things (that you’d find in a marketplace along the ocean) like fish, olives, and clams, I found some things that just were so odd I had to take a few pictures of them. Like this almond-shaped melon. I discovered that it turned out to be something called a Pepino Melon and tasted almost exactly like a cantelope.
When my family took a trip to Hawaii, we found something that looked like a giant spiky green heart. We heard you were supposed to squeeze the guyabano and mix the juice with other juices to drink. It had white flesh, but was pretty sour. I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone, especially if there were any of the other normally found fruits, like pineapples or kiwis. However, if you’re adventurous…
But, enough of these far-flung farmer’s markets! What about the local markets? Well, one of the things that I thought was pretty odd that has been showing up at many of the weekly markets, is the bison meat. That’s a pretty neat thing to find, I thought. Another would be the hand-collected bags of wild rice. It takes a bunch of work, but they taste delicious.
Also, at the Pine River Market Square, you can grab a homemade goat’s milk soap with many different colors and fragrances.
So, what would you recommend to the snob of the world? What is something that you’ve found at your local market that is heads and tails the most unique thing that no one else has seen?