Market Days – No Small Thing
I love Green City Market.
From May 12th through October 30th, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, farmers from Indiana, Michigan and Illinois set up tents and stands at the south side of Lincoln Park, appropriately, perhaps, not far from the miniature farm in the zoo.
It’s quite a festive, family friendly atmosphere. Often, there are folding chairs set up so that shoppers can listen to musicians. Dogs on leashes and toddlers in their buggies visit the different kiosks under the watchful eyes of their owners and parents. Organic foodies roam around, high on the air of sustainability and pesticide-free produce.
The green beans are so fresh, they even taste good raw. Flaming Furies®, a name I’ve always thought more suitable for a ladies’ softball team, and about a dozen other varieties of peaches are chin-dripping treats.
I used to think “purple peppers” were simply part of a tongue twister (Remember Peter picked a peck?) until I found some at the market.
There’s a tent I visit regularly where they sell micro-greens. They look like fine, colorful grasses, but they are dense and loaded with flavors you would normally find in a milder form as some other vegetable like beets or radish.
There’s a rainbow of apples, from red to pink to yellow to green. They’re perfectly imperfect, of all different sizes, completely unselfconscious about a brown spot here or there. They know they are wonderfully crisp and not too sweet or too tart.
A red cabbage at Green City Market opens up like a corsage on homecoming, and the blueberry-raspberry-melon smoothies blended on site (where they plug in the blender, I don’t know), you can’t believe how good they are.
In June, the market has several vendors that sell wild prairie flowers. Asparagus is also plentiful. In July, you’re more likely to see molded cardboard buckets of berries; red, blue and black. And later in the summer, you’ll start to see corn come in.
My fellow urbanites will pull back the husk from one or two ears before buying a bunch. I’m not sure that most of us really know the signs of a high-quality ear, but this seems to be everyone’s routine. There’s more corn in August and enough tomatoes to make Mama Ragu cry with joy. In September, I’ll see beets and a wider variety of peppers.
Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate that I can go to a nearby grocery store and find avocados year-round and can pretty much whip up a batch of guacamole anytime I want. Still, the fact that what I see any Wednesday or Saturday morning at Green City Market might not be there the following week makes me feel a special kind of appreciation.
Golden sunflowers or purple asparagus, bunches of basil or strawberries ready to be encrusted in dark chocolate: these things might only be available a couple of weeks.
Enjoying things in their season is no small thing.