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Fiddleheads & Farmers Markets

I was happy to find fiddleheads on sale last weekend at Guercio’s. They weren’t the freshest fiddleheads I’ve ever had, but they were still delicious. Fiddleheads are in season right now, and experienced foragers are probably out looking for morels in our region as we speak. Look for both on menus at local restaurants, and if you’re very lucky, you may find a wise farmer or two who has brought some along to the farmers market this weekend. They aren’t inexpensive, foraged items generally sell for premium prices, but their short season and lack of availability make them a prized menu item.

We know the farmers markets can be frustrating for some (check out this guide to the area’s markets if you’re looking to explore other areas or find one near you). Maybe you don’t know what’s in season, so determining a menu is difficult. Perhaps you’re not much of a cook, and trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of Tuscan kale or a bundle of kohlrabi makes you panicky (my picky 8-year-old eats the latter like apples, so you shouldn’t be too frightened).

This is where new technology meets old school and makes eating local, seasonal produce less of a challenge for the uninitiated. There are a lot of apps for today’s phones which feature recipes and other farmers market helpers. Plus, the ability to access recipes from the internet using your handheld mobile device should make a quick internet search for “kohlrabi” a snap.

celeriac.jpg But here’s the simplest thing to do, for those of you, like many, who are still using a standard phone, or prefer not to mix technology with the bounty and peace of your weekly market visits–just ask the farmer. If he’s selling squash blossoms or celeriac chances are, he has eaten them himself. And while most farmers I know are not chefs, they generally have very simple and unpretentious preparation methods for the food they grow and bring to their own tables. So, this summer, when you’re at the market and see a vegetable or fruit you’ve never seen before, take the time to introduce yourself to the farmer who grew it and ask him some questions, you’re probably not the first or the last person who will want to know the very same thing that day. It’s one of the benefits of shopping at the farmers market besides bumping into friends and having access to the freshest food in town, it’s knowing the name of the person who planted the seed, cared for the plant and harvested the fruit (or vegetable) of that labor.

Did you visit the market today? It’s early in the season, but we’d still like to know what you purchased and how you plan to prepare it. Maybe you’d like to let us know in the comment section below?

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