I pretty much ignore him every week as I walk down the aisles, clipboard in hand. He stands behind a table and two large coolers, smiling and taking in the scenery, as though he were a hiker in a commercial for allergy medicine. He always seems to float in a cloud of serenity, and I get the feeling that this weekend gig of selling goods at the farmers market is the least stressful part of his week. In stark contrast, I balance an extra large coffee cup in my grip, and try to hold myself so that the dripping eruption of jet fuel stays contained to the area around my hands and misses my shirt. I frantically dart from booth to booth, scribbling down a list of vegetables trying desperately to categorize them into logical order before calling in to the “fresh and local” radio show with Susan Berkson and Bonnie Dehn. If curious, most of the vendors ask me what I am up to, why I am walking around with a clip board, or (if they know me) what’s on the schedule for the day’s market talk.
Not the calm one.
He just stands.
I don’t usually avoid him on purpose, although sometimes I fear that my constant state of frazzle will pierce through the calm and send his energy field into anaphylactic shock. Mainly, I just haven’t had much to ask him about. He sells fresh pasta, which, isn’t a seasonal food and so it doesn’t get too much air time on the radio show in the summer. It also happens to be something that, until recently, belonged to a category of foods I was attempting to eat less of.
Last Sunday, the sun blazed so hot that it cooked the souls out of the ground. They rose in steamy streams and hovered about clinging to the fabric of our shirts and haunting every corner of breathable air. The vegetables wilted in terror, but they were only pretending, lying down to play dead until the weather breaks. The people came and went quickly, they were tethered to the unshakable wills of small children, who couldn’t quite express the effect that the heat was having on their mood quite as well as their scrunched up faces and irritable glares. The market was slow. I decided to use the time to figure out what I am going to make for my cooking demo on the July 24th. The pasta man stuck out like a tree in the deserted aisle. I wondered over to him.
“Hi” I said.
“Hi there, can I help you find something?”
“are you the pasta maker?”
“no, I just sell for my neighbor on the weekends. I don’t make pasta, but I do grow a lot of my own food.”
“Really, what do you grow?”
“Here, try a cherry.” He said, producing a cherry bowl from behind the table. “I planted this tree when my daughter was born. That was over 20 years ago now, and every year it produces like crazy!” He said, his eyes glistening with excitement.
The cherry had a flavor so rich and perfectly “cherry” that it almost tasted artificial. It was delicious.
“Do you have a pasta that will go well with golden beets?”
“Here” He said with a sly smile. Try these…
I took home two packages of pasta, and red and golden beets. After some delicious experimentation and finally the approval of a discerning board of judges (thank you Christina and Jessie) I came up with the following dishes: Both feature the product of the week (beets). Recipes will be posted following the demonstration at the Minneapolis Farmers Market at 10:30 am on Sunday, July 24th. It’s free and open to the public, please come!