I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: We love our farmers’ market. Really. It is the best farmers’ market I have every seen, anywhere—and that even includes the Boqueria, though for atmosphere and sheer grandeur, the Boqueria still trumps all. Our farmers’ market takes place every Sunday in a big parking lot underneath a highway overpass, which makes it very California. What also makes it very California—but in a good way—is the abundance of fruits and vegetables available every week, all grown and harvested within driving distance of Sacramento. The bounty is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before: piles upon piles of peaches, pluots, corn, potatoes, greens, herbs, onions, carrots, squash, cucumbers, green beans. Baskets of strawberries and blackberries and figs. Fresh meat and fish. Lavender, bunches of wildflowers, fresh honey.
Andrew and I have committed ourselves to eating solely what we can buy at the farmers’ market and at our local organic food co-op, except for things like lunchmeat and yeast and other things that Safeway provides more economically. However, here our paths seem to be swiftly dividing: while I love the farmers’ market in practice, Andrew seems to be loving it, these days, more in theory.
Though I feel we’re eating healthier than ever before, eating primarily from the farmers’ market has not worked out entirely for the best—for the simple reason that Andrew really likes eating meat. I like meat too, but my relationship with meat is more take-it-or-leave-it. An all-veggie meal is perfectly fine for me. An all-veggie meal for Andrew leads him to eat a sandwich at 10pm. And though Andrew claims to “love” vegetables, a few of our recent meals have not gone over so well.
The other day, fresh from a trip to the farmers’ market, I made okra with tomatoes and ginger over rice. Andrew claimed to like it while practically gagging on every bite, and finally admitted he does not like okra, ginger, or tomato sauce over rice. Two days ago, I made stuffed peppers, using beautiful red and yellow bell peppers from that morning’s market (there’s a smaller market on Tuesdays) and ground beef from the co-op. Again, while gagging, Andrew claimed to “love” the meal. Under duress, he would say only “This is a whole pepper. It’s just…a lot of pepper.” I also made a marinated beet salad with the peppers, which perhaps doomed the whole endeavor.
Last week, I made a Barefoot Contessa recipe—pasta with lemon and arugula in a cream sauce. I love this dish. The first time I made it, Andrew seemed to enjoy it; this time, he proclaimed the arugula content too high. A dinner I made a couple of weeks ago—pasta with fresh mustard greens—met with similarly low ratings.
I do not think I am a bad cook, and, if confronted about any one of these things, Andrew will say “But I loved it! I ate it!”—inadvertently suggesting that he ate it AS OPPOSED TO throwing it across the room, feeding it to the local squirrels, or sculpting it into a California-esque work of agricultural art. Nonetheless, these farmers’ market-inspired experiments, though pleasing to me, have fallen short with my spouse. And I’m afraid tomorrow’s dinner may befall the same fate—sautéed Swiss chard with fresh corn soup. Sounds delicious to me…