You discover it by chance. A flourishing farmer’s market beneath Crocker Galleria’s glass atrium. Dappled in natural sunlight, the market looks enchanting with tables overflowing with produce. Vibrant red bell peppers, satin smooth nectarines, and impossibly large oranges. You had plans to shop at the department stores today, but just one glimpse and, suddenly, your plans have changed.
As you step in closer to look at a crate of figs, someone approaches you. He introduces himself as one of the farmers, who informs you that the figs are organic and were just harvested yesterday. He even offers to share his recipe for fig jam.
The whole thing feels intimate, unexpected and refreshing. Emboldened by the farmer’s transparency, you ask more questions about the food’s origins. Where is your farm located? How do you transport produce into the city? And what exactly is this market?
Why, this is Farm Fresh Market, a weekly gathering of thirteen local purveyors. Everything here is transported by the farmers themselves, directly from the fields.
He leads you over to a box of persimmons, which he says are in peak season. He points out their plumpness and sets one in your hand. The orange skin is vibrant, without any cracks or blemishes.
“Grocery store persimmons don’t look like this,” he says. “They are smaller, dull, cracked or pockmarked from distribution, and less flavorful. Retail produce is just harvested too early and handled too much.”
Suddenly hungry, you pick out a handful of leafy greens, a bundle of apples, and a few persimmons. Combined with a handful of walnuts and some dressing you already have at home, it will make a delicious Winter Harvest Salad.
You carry the bags home with care and, after rinsing everything off, begin to prepare your meal. You chop the greens, slice one apple into paper-thin slivers, and core a persimmon before cutting it into thick wedges. You throw it all into one bowl and cover it with a handful of walnuts and light ribbons of balsamic fig glaze.
You take just one bite and suddenly you’re hooked. The farmer was right. The salad is full of flavor, tasting more like a guilty pleasure snack than a healthy dish. You find yourself scraping the bottom of the bowl with your fork, not letting a single morsel go to waste.
You make a mental vote to visit Farm Fresh Market again next week. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll be out of persimmons by then. And perhaps you’ll get that fig jam recipe after all…