My Sunday routine is loose but always includes three things: Coffee, walk with the dog, and the farmer’s market. The market is held in a large parking lot under the W/X freeway (ie, Hwy50/Capitol City Freeway). While I found the location a bit odd at first, I actually prefer it to the Davis market (held on Saturdays). Who wants to drive across the causeway to a farmer’s market? The vibrance and bustle of this market is year-round. I most look forward to the late fall/early winter Sunday market simply because all the activity warms the otherwise foggy morning.
The best selection is found before 10.30 and the best deals are found after 11.30 am. I never have a set time to go to the market–only mindful during the different seasons of what I need vs. what I want. It is from the market that I also purchase the apples, cucumbers, okra, apricots, oranges, rhubarb, lemons, strawberries, pumpkins, and raspberries to make the canned delights some of you have enjoyed in the past.
With a few exceptions (yogurt, flour, oats, and soy milk), I purchase nearly everything I eat from the farmer’s market. Eggs, cheese, meat, fish, nuts, plants, dried fruits, fresh cut flowers, honey, fruits and veggies are offered by a myriad of vendors. I have a few favorite vendors who know me and every Sunday is filled with light happy exchanges.
The vendors are a cast of characters intertwined with the bustle of individuals and families who gather here each Sunday. There’s the older couple who sell nuts (they have an orchard in Yolo) and they’ve been married forever. Their spicey almonds are quite cruch-alicous and their walnuts are my favorite for baking and salads.
I do my best not to rush through the market, but rather, to soak up the warmth and bustle each week. Julie often accompanies me and I find the experience to be a combination of browsing the stalls and boy watching. When I’m down on Sacramento, a trip to the market immediately cheers me up and reminds me why I live here. There is a community to be found in this town, and slowly, I am building one. I find it very comforting to buy my food from local farmers and eat what is in season rather than go to Safeway. Because of this, I am excited for the season change and each crop that comes with each…it rarely occurs to me to go to the supermarket to purchase what I can’t find at the farmer’s market.
My favorite vendor is the mushroom lady. She always has a big warm smile and a hug for me. Her button mushrooms are my normal fair, but sometimes I splurge and buy the portabellas to roast on the grill. I love her mushrooms, but truly, I really like the warmth and joyfulness that this woman exudes. She’s always my first stop.
And then there is the cookie lady. She’s the short woman in the photo. She sells a selection of fresh breads, torillas, and sweet treats. However, the market director does not allow her to sell her out-of-this-world oatmeal raisin/oatmeal chocolate cookies. So, with a silly rule like that, her loyal patrons ignore the market director and purchase them anyway. You walk up, take a look around, and then say something like “Oh. I was hoping for something with a chocolate flare” and she smiles, goes to the van, brings out the half dozen cookies in a brown paper sack. You pay, smile, and walk away. A cookie deal at the farmer’s market…how covert. how dangerous. Her cookies are sinfully delicious…
Here in California, I know my seasons by the available farmer’s market items. Apples, pumpkins, and citrus are early winter (right before Christmas–the citrus and apples last until early spring), cabbage and aspargus are early spring, cucumbers and tomatoes are high summer…fresh flowers and root crops are enjoyed year-round. Every Sunday, I am in post-market glow filled with excitement and love for where I live.
The treat today? Apricots are back! But with their appearance, the asparagus has waned. Cherries were present at many of the stands–so red and plump, shiny. Too bad I’m not a cherry fan. In addition to my usual fair (beets, mushrooms, leafy salad mix and kale, carrots), I picked up a half-flat of strawberries (ah, strawberry season!!) and more dried lavender stems for my chocolate spearmint lavendar cookies. The lavendar vendor told me if I come by next week with some cookies, he’ll trade me some fresh lavendar! Yipppppeee!!!