We are very lucky to have access to food in the U.S. At any given time, we can always go to the nearest Trader Joe’s or Safeway to pick up dinner on the way home, or shop for the whole week. I remember the days when I was growing up in the Philippines when we go to the “wet market” every day where everything is fresh and just harvested for the day. The presence of big grocery stores came later but because refrigeration in the third world almost is a luxury, we opted to buy what we can cook and store for only a day or so. The best lessons in cooking came when I would go with my grandmother Helen who was a great cook would tell me how to best prepare them, even how to find if the fish is fresh or not without smelling them.
In the U.S., however, we mostly shop for a week or a month’s worth of groceries and a visit to the frozen section is a must especially when you are looking for ingredients that are not in season. But times have changed. In NorCal especially, there is always a farmers’ market at any given time of week pretty much all over San Francisco–and in any season–because we are so close to the central valley where it is farmed. Where else can you go and buy fresh sweet strawberries, sweet tomatoes or citrus in the middle of winter, beets in Springtime when it is supposed to be a fall vegetable, or brussels sprouts in any season? I thank those hardworking farmers for continuously planting and harvesting to support our lifestyle. These days, you can even order online for a week’s supply of what is available and it is an easy as loading an App on your mobile phone.
But sometimes the stuff that we get online, in the store, or deliveries do not last a week and we end up with wilted greens, stinky onions, overripe bananas in the fridge that just goes to the compost bin or the landfill. Not only a waste or money but also time and energy. When we are in town for the weekend, Peter and I (well, Dolly too) normally spend a few minutes shopping for fresh produce in the City–and our favorite is the one close to home–the Alemany farmers’ market. They not only offer fresh fruit or veggies but also bread, pupusas and tamales so you can have your breakfast too. There is now even a vendor that sells strong Mexican coffee and champurado (not the Filipino porridge made of sticky rice and chocolate but the thick flavorful drink). Lucky! If you see a piece of fruit or a bunch of veggies that look or smell slightly different, ask the local farmer and they would even be glad to tell you how to cook or eat them.
Today was a good day at the market. We came home with a bounty of fresh local veggies and fruit. So I guess we would be having a meatless Saturday dinner tonight. Below are some photos from taken in Alemany. As you can see, the prices are very reasonable, if not ridiculously cheap, be it organic or not and most pretty much starts at a $1.00 or so a bunch. It is the right season for calamansi (see last photo), and I was glad to find them this morning since since they are great with marinades, juice and a great substitute for lemon for your afternoon tea. So if you have time and in the neighborhood, come check it out. The only thing missing this morning was the company of the lovely Tynessa Jue.