Now, this is what I'd been waiting for...for months. Hordes of people talking about the proper time to snip lettuce, kids helping their parents put onions into their (always reusable!) bags, militant environmentalists scolding those not like them...ah, the Boulder Farmers' Market.
At about 11 a.m. on this past, overcast Saturday, I struggled to find parking, then finally abandoned my car and ducked into the market, which was marking its second week of the season. My very own reusable bag in hand, I began my ritual of walking up and down the rows of merchants and farmers showing their goods about 3,000 times as I contemplated what to get. I even stopped and stared at the booth selling flowers and thought, Wow, those flowers are bright and they smell great! Maybe I'll get some! Then I realized they might not match the icy-blue decor of the Keystone Light cans that serve as "art" in my college house.
So I headed over to the tamale stand to get some brain food to help with those tough produce decision. But this early in the season, my options were limited. It may have been the damp conditions that inspired me to go to the Hazel Dell mushroom stand, where I opted for a mixed bag with intentions of slicing the mushrooms, throwing them in a hot pan with some butter, then drizzling balsamic vinegar over them until everythings was all syrupy and rich and earthy. Like mushroom candy. Mmmmm, mushroom candy.
On my way back to the abandoned car, some spring garlic called out to me. Spring garlic (or green garlic or baby garlic) is the underdeveloped version of garlic, and you won't be finding it at Safeway anytime soon. Usually available only from March through May, these tender little plants have a much more subtle garlic flavor, but are just as versatile. Or so I'd heard -- I'd never seen them before, and had simply taken the tales I'd heard of cooks splitting them open and throwing them on the grill as proof of their existence. Now I could test them for myself.
As I walked away from the market, I got a nice, fuzzy feeling that I was actually doing good for the community as well as my own kiitchen. The food doesn't have to be organic and you don't have to drive a Prius in order to eat "local."
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I decided to celebrate by chasing my mushrooms and green garlic with a thirty-rack of "art."