Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Squash? Or Art?

I visited my favorite farmer, Aidan, at the Copley Square Farmer's Market today. Along with the apples, tomatoes, carrots, red onions, and corn, I found a beautiful carnival squash, which will sit around our apartment as an obj√©t d'art until it starts to soften and look a bit suspect — round about March, judging from last year's model.

Aidan thinks it's hilarious that I buy his vegetables as sculpture, but anyone might admire my squash's lyrical, curvy stem and enjoy watching its slowly shifting colors, from greens to golds to orange, as it matures. I couldn't bear to slice it and roast it. And I'm not so crazy as to try the same thing with, say, one of his heirloom tomatoes.

I scheduled my last two part-time jobs so I'd be free to make my morning visits to the Copley market: Tuesday and Fridays, 11 to 6, from May to Thanksgiving. Many of the farmers know us steady customers on sight, and I've gotten helpful cooking and gardening tips over the years.

We head to Iggy's bread stand first, because their best stuff sells out quickly. (The only bread that tops Iggy's is the pricey little golden raisin and pecan wholegrain loaf from When Pigs Fly.) There are many other bakery stands these days, but I pass them by. Except for the coffeecake-and-pie lady, who sometimes proves irresistible.

All winter long, we long for fresh, local vegetables, berries, sunflower bouquets, and butter-and-sugar corn. In spring, I buy plants and potted herbs for the front steps; in the fall, I carry home leeks for soups, and red beets, Yukon Gold potatoes, and yams to roast. But, of course, the real treasure is a bag of ripe, red field tomatoes. We stock up as soon as they appear in July; by late September we keep our fingers crossed that their season will stretch into November.

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