A stroll around the old French Quarter of New Orleans, the weather as hot and steamy as the city’s reputation; dinner and theater, of course, in vibrant New York, a sidle up to an ice cream truck to appease our sweet tooth, vanilla for her, chocolate for me; and now a morning under the fog at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market and lunch in San Francisco. Dianne Jacob and I have made it a rule and a tradition to spend time together whenever we are lucky enough to find ourselves at the same conference. I flew to her city, San Francisco and together we wended our way over to and through the market, snapping photos and ogling the great foods and products, chatting away the morning.
Bundles of vibrant vegetables, bins of colorful spuds, baskets of tantalizing, intriguing greens, fragrant citrus and grapefruit so sweet a bite excited no pucker, no grimace, no spurt of tartness. Cheeses nutty, earthy, salty or mild, hunks and wheels jumbled together on card tables, slices picked off the sharp edge of a knife for the tasting; these and more carried us through the market, up and down the crowded aisles.
The pewter sky threatened rain yet remained clear, settling into a steely mood, anything but dismal. The fog hung low over the mountain, swallowing up the distant edges of the bridge creating an eerie, magical black and white vision. Tables spattered with shimmering raindrops, buckets filled with brilliant tulips, irises and peonies, snap snap snap experience the market through the lens of a camera.
What fascination at a market! I find myself three or four mornings a week at our own local market – never ever considered a “farmer’s” market. What else would it be? We purchase our vegetables, local, seasonal, fresh, much with the dirt still clinging to leaves and roots, fragrant bread fresh from the oven, cheeses heady with the farm. Our meats, chicken and fish come from the market, carried home in a fabric carryall or basket, nestled in between the choucroute, Indian dal, tiny ratte fingerling potatoes from neighboring Noirmoutier and bottles of wine from Nantes’ muscadet vineyards. So a market should be ho hum daily fare to me, shouldn’t it? A market should hold no secrets, no fascination for me. But this one does. I see colors and kinds of vegetables I have never known to exist? I see baskets filled with rare fist-sized morel mushrooms, a sight to behold, eliciting a squeal. I see eager, hungry people waiting in line for typically American food that I sorely miss when in France. And I turn and look out over San Francisco Bay, the water glistening under soft gray skies, a gossamer haze of fog still and silent, suspended in midair. There is something enchanting, something that inspires childlike wonder even in this jaded soul.
Lunch is always the most difficult choice for two who can’t ever seem to decide. Paper plates on knees, Asian flavors, the newly emerged sun warming our faces as we collect our belongings around us on this wooden bench overlooking the bay, pigeons clacking and fluttering around our feet.
A tight hug and away. Until next time.
Take a bigger bite ...