I’m adventurous about food, eating and cooking both, thanks to growing up in NYC. But really thanks to my parents, who had their wedding reception in a Chinatown restaurant, routinely took us to a place where the pickles were still sold in wooden barrels and who didn’t tell me I was eating beef tongue at a Swedish restaurant until after I said I liked it. While some cities might have one or two groceries for any given ethnic food, NY often has whole neighborhoods. Just as I got my first apartment, I had the immense good fortune to work within minutes of Manhattan’s Union Square farmers market, NYC’s oldest and still the largest. I’ve shopped farmers markets in Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, Hawaii and many around the Sound.
But I’m not adventurous about spending money, not even on food. My first taste of escargot and sweetbreads, both delicious – somebody else’s expense account at haute etablissement. Armenian – a close friend treating me. Sushi – a cousin taking me on the town. When I cook, I shop a hard bargain. I am very very conservative about spending money.
So farmers markets and I have an uneasy relationship. Some purchases are breathtakingly painless – fruit in season, picked that morning, OH YES, a bargain even though it might be more expensive ounce-for-ounce than tasteless, colorless, odorless store-bought. But the exotics, the so darn beguiling expensive-when-I-don’t-know-if-I’ll-like-them exotics…. I’ve looked at garlic scapes in hope and despair for countless seasons. Finally bought some. And wow, I like them.
I’ve been cooking a little more this week. Cleaning the kitchen today was a little easier. All of this is a round-about way to encourage you to do something a little different, get yourself out of your comfort zone. Shake yourself up a bit and see what happens.
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