Each week on the Farmers Market Minute, community development specialist and foodie Richard McCarthy explores the variety of people and produce who make up this delicious region's farmers markets — from uptown to downtown, Covington to Gretna.
Today is Bastille Day. In celebration, head over to the West Bank. You can drive on an avenue named for a French head of State, Charles De Gaulle. He actually visited New Orleans in 1960. And while you are there, why not pop over to the Gretna Farmers Market to purchase a bottle of Henry Amato’s orange wine. With it, you can prepare a refreshing French cocktail in honor of the occasion.
If your holiday barbecue embers are still glowing with heat, consider joining the throng of chefs who have discovered the joys of grilling fruit.
A decade ago, it was exciting to simply taste savory salads that feature watermelon, peaches and figs. Today, that seems pedestrian. I marvel at how chefs are finding ways to grill summer fruit and how to pair them. Among the surprises is grilled watermelon.
Each year, food system solutionaries attempt to eat within 200 miles of New Orleans as part of the Eat Local Challenge. This is a marvelously interactive addition to our local food revolution.
However, the Challenge triggers deeper questions about local self-reliance. While you may find Louisiana rice on sale, why is it you don’t find local rice vinegar? Rice wine or rice syrup? The same could be said of pecans and sugar. This raises questions about economic development priorities at the state level.
With farmers market tables piled high, watch the produce fly. These are peak season weeks crying out for fun in the kitchen. But, if the fresh aroma of peaches, blueberries and basil is not enough to inspire you to cook, consider next Saturday’s annual cookbook swap.
At the Saturday morning market in the New Orleans Warehouse District, festivities centered around the launch of the 2012 wooden token. At market, this is how shoppers convert plastic credit and debit currencies into market money. Last year, the market converted almost $400,000 in wooden coins.
I noticed this morning at market a most welcome site: squash blossoms for sale.
I don’t know whether you grow vegetables. I do. Well, let me correct myself: I try to. Mostly, I seem to raise snails. Yes, I too have tried to grow squash. Unfortunately, the squash borers appear to be in cahoots with my snails. They eat them before I can.
Are you familiar with a traditional food that’s just come into season: Mayhaw. It is so named for May Day, its peak season. According to mayhaw mythology, this wild, apple-like cousin of the hawthorn tree thrives in swampy coastal Louisiana and Texas.
Tomorrow is Earth Day. While I risk sounding cliché, every day should be Earth Day. Instead, we treat the planet like trash. So, what is to be done?
For those of you who are discovering the joys of growing and cooking with fresh ingredients, might composting serve as one small step towards ecological responsibility? I know that sticking out of my market bags are voluminous carrot tops and leek greens. And that’s only that which I couldn’t fit inside the bag. Sometimes, I make stock with this excess fiber. Other times, I cut and disregard.