Friends at the Farmer's Market

Some of my greatest food discoveries occurred not in white tablecloth restaurants or on exotic vacations, but in my hometown farmers' market.

In the past, I tended to shop alone, and to shop in silence. I was generally so taken by the bundles of green-topped carrots and the stacks of pearly white cauliflower that I didn't interact much with anyone.

But this has since changed. Now I talk to the farmers, and they talk back. And in the course of developing these Sunday relationships, I've become privy to some true edible gems I'd never have encountered before I began routinely engaging them in eager conversation.

Last week, Grace, who grows grapes, figs, and nuts in Fresno, California, surprised me with a handful of fresh from the pod pistachios. She showed me how to peel off their soft skins and expose their familiar hinged shells. Then today, she pulled out a long plastic bag from behind the cash register. It wasn't on display for the general public, but she knew I'd be interested so she plucked it out for me to see. It was rogig, an Armenian walnut candy made with cornstarch and cooked grape juice, which hangs and cures for several days before being rolled in powdered sugar.

What a treasure. Next time you buy produce direct from a farmer, say hello, be curious, and ask questions. You never know what you may discover.


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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