Wednesday is market day in Portland, Maine and every week since I moved here in early June, I have shopped at the farmers’ stalls in the early morning before the produce and flowers are picked over.
I can’t eat as much as I once did – must be something about getting older – and I haven't learned new buying habits yet, so I always get too much; so many good things to eat and so little stomach space. I’ve been meaning to take you on a photo tour for the longest time and I finally remembered the camera yesterday.
There was a hybrid pea this summer I had never seen before, a cross between Chinese peapods and sugar peas that grows flat and twisted and is as sweet as candy – best raw in salads, but good when steamed too. They have to be enjoyed quickly; their season is only two or three weeks in July and August.
Many farmers here specialize in heirloom vegetables, so I’ve been trying new (to me) kinds of tomatoes along with a cucumber which grows in a spiral shape and is half the diameter of the standard, waxy supermarket variety. I’ve come to favor cute little sweet peppers the size of shallots that are available in green, yellow, orange, red and purple.
Blackberries are gone now for the year, but the second growth of raspberries is still going strong and Keith, who mans the stall where I buy mine, says they will be around for another two or three weeks.
The market is smack in the middle of downtown Portland in Monument Square where protests and musical performances are held at other times. Yesterday, I found this colorful array of root vegetables.
That pile of white is baby turnips, the flavor of which is less strong than their larger relatives. Steamed and mashed with some butter and garlic, they are a whole new taste treat. But I like them cut up raw in a salad too.
I usually buy lettuce at Freedom Farm. The varieties are robust and crispy, and reports of e.coli notwithstanding, I bought some spinach yesterday – the wrinkled kind you can’t find in supermarkets anymore.
It fits with Freedom Farm’s well-tended vegetables that they also sell hand-dyed yarn spun from the wool of their own sheep.
Autumn begins on Saturday, but the remaining watermelon were reminders of summer almost past, and the squash is in greater supply now.
Pumpkins of all sizes were at nearly every stall this week. I like the ones on the left, a slightly off shade of orange I’ve never seen before to match their not-quite-pumpkin shape. I’ll buy one or two next week.
If pumpkins don’t convince you fall has arrived, the rows and rows of mums will. It appears that all local farmers also grow chrysanthemums. They are a lot less expensive for a pot the size of these than in New York…
…but I opted instead for these more exotic Chinese lanterns to show off the new cupboard which fills a wall space that was looking entirely too empty.