Saturday, October 27, 2007

Itadakimasu: Saturday Morning Edition

Matt and I finally managed to get a day off together - and a proper day off, with no class and no work and no real necessary errands. Instead of sleeping in though, I dragged him out into the sunlight at the brutal hour of 12 o'clock to catch this:

Our local farmer's market, on the Portland State Campus.

It was pretty jam-packed by the time we got there, due to the pumpkin carving something-or-other going on in one of the central booths.

Our first order of business was breakfast - Matt was in search of the breakfast burrito booth, which does a decent imitation of a New Mexican breakfast burrito, but they were nowhere to be found. We went with tamales, instead.

A Yucatan chicken tamale smothered in somewhat spicy salsa - not a bad way to start the morning. The man selling them was handing out warnings alongside.

"I only have hot left - is that all right?"

Oh, more than. Matt had his with lashings of sour cream - prettier than mine, but not nearly as tasty, though he may beg to differ.

We sat on the steps of the library while we ate, much to the chagrin of the students attempting to go study. But once fortified, it was time to properly explore the weekend's crops.

My favourite apple booth was somehow out of Honeycrisp apples - my current addiction. I hope the season's not over. I picked up some Pippin and Jonagold instead - it's a rough life. At another booth, I also found some fresh-pressed, unfiltered cider. I came home with half a gallon, all sweet and cloudy. I may dig out some cinnamon sticks and cloves later on, and make a batch of mulled cider, if any of it lasts that long.

Also, despite being so theoretically isolated from all things spicy and New Mexican out here in the great Northwest... there is a chile-roasting booth at the market.

The roaster they use is just like the one that sits outside of the little fruit market down on 4th street in Albuquerque, where my parents bought (literally) garbage bags full of green chile. I remember chile-peeling parties in the front yard, with everyone gathered around a little round table, their hands gloved, peeling and de-stemming the green chiles, stuffing them into little ziploc bags to be frozen and used, all winter long.

We bought these - the hottest they have - right out of the roaster. We don't have any gloves in the house, so whenever I peel chile I always end up sitting with my hands in a little bowl of milk later that evening. Matt laughs at me, but it's the only thing I've found that stops the stinging.

More in a Northwestern vein, my usual mushroom booth did not disappoint. Fighting my way through the crowd that always gathers, I found a veritable mountain of chantrelles.

I took a hillock home with me.

Not all of those - just a few big handfuls. I haven't decided what to do with them yet: whether to incorporate them into something larger, or just saute them with a little butter and enjoy them on their own.

I also found myself taking absurd quantities of photos of various squash, something I neither eat nor cook, but am inexplicably drawn to.

Are these butternut? I feel compelled to call them butternut, because of the colour, but they could be spaghetti, for all I know. And these, what are these?

Besides amazing, I mean. I wish I liked squash - really, I do. I've tried. There's something about the texture, though, that I can't get past. It's mushy, no matter how it's cooked. And in soups, there's always a faintly powdery texture to it that I just can't get over. So I guess I'll just photograph them, for now.

There are a few other inedibles, besides squash. The Accordian Man, for example, while neither food nor farmer, is always there. He's a favourite with kids - there are usually half a dozen dancing somewhere nearby.

While I was taking a last minute tour of the booths to see if I had missed anything important, Matt took the camera and headed for the balcony of the student union building, to see if he could get some decent aerial shots, or spot anything new.

This picture gives you a decent idea of the scale of the market - it's decently-sized. Not overwhelming, and small enough to get quite crowded, but I had my choice of a fair multitude of different bakers, butchers, cheesemongers and orchards.

And florists - there can never be too many flowers at a farmer's market.

I tend not to bring them home, as I will put them in a vase, forget about them and find them brown and pathetic two months later. I do this with living plants as well, not just cut flowers. My parents' green thumbs passed me over, somehow. So for now, I just enjoy the pictures, and let someone who will remember to care for them take the flowers home.


The CFT said...

Great post. You make me miss the area.

Dean said...

Wonderful market scene!