Kelly Carámbula on the art of the farmer’s market haul
Not long after moving to Brooklyn, I discovered a farmers market near my apartment. That first year, my boyfriend and I would wake up on Saturday morning, roll out of bed and walk to the market bright and early to make sure we didn’t miss out on any of the good stuff. We’d walk home, arms weighed down with bags of fresh, familiar produce—berries, corn, tomatoes, green beans—food that reminded me of growing up… (read more)
I’d spend the rest of the morning making jams, salsa, tomato sauce—whatever I could think of. Then when cooler whether came the market started slowing down, the colors began to get more drab and by November I knew I wasn’t going to see any new produce for a long while. Thus began one of the longest winters of my life. I missed those walks to the market, the bright colors of the fruit and vegetables, the happy faces of both the vendors and the shoppers. Each weekend slowly ticked by and our meals felt more boring than ever.
By April I was stalking the farmers market. I never thought I’d be so happy to see lanky green stalks of rhubarb in my life. I felt as though I’d discovered gold—and in my world, I had. I found the inspiration I was looking for and began a summer full of exploration. Sure I was shrilled to see my old favorites—who doesn’t love seeing the first strawberries of the season? But this time I embraced things that I’d always turned my nose up to—spindly little stalks of asparagus were roasted and simply seasoned with lemon juice and salt while fragrant ramps were made into pesto. Bloated sugar snap peas were eaten like candy while I loaded my bags with more berries than is reasonable for two people. Soon enough we were hauling home melons, cursing ourselves for not thinking about how heavy multiple melons get when you have to walk a mile and up 4 flights of stairs. Each weekend brought something new—I was like a kid in a candy shop and I was loving it. Forget plain old red tomatoes and pepper—I never knew how many shapes, sizes and colors they came in. Purple peppers and yellow tomatoes quickly made their way onto the dinner table.
By the end of the season when things once again began to slow down, I felt a pang of sadness knowing that another slow winter was ahead. But after a summer like that, I knew what I had to look forward to if I could just get through those hard months: another season ripe for discovery.