The farmer’s markets here are really fantastic. We found one that is a nice twenty min walk (and a quick bus ride back) every Monday and Thursday.
I’m skeptical about their authenticity though... really I'm skeptical about the authenticity a lot of things that seem to service people's idealism (I want a pair of Rowdy Roddy Piper's glasses from They Live to dicipher all the hogwash). This came from the fact that many so-called farmer’s market vendors in St. Louis were middle men, no better than shopping at the grocery store except out in the open air. I mean the reason we all go to farmer’s markets in the first place is to be a little closer to the food we eat. And I think some of these vendors capitalize on that. It’s not hard to figure out that some of the people selling vegetables at these stands have never had their hands in soil.
In the end, we’re just trying to be a little more conscious about what we buy, eat, add to a landfill. Paula and I try and only shop from two ends of the grocery store— on the right is all the fresh produce and all the way on the left (at least in the US) is the wine. We cut out almost everything that is boxed, packaged and vacuumed sealed (minus Paula’s Greek yogurt, and my milk, and anywhere else where it would be a bit weird if they put the food product directly in our hands— sometimes you need a package otherwise the feta cheese would be all drippy and goopy in your hands).
Anyway, it’s always a bit odd getting carrots from Peru when there are farms in the area and we’d like to be a bit more seasonal about our eating habits and support the local farmers who work so hard. It’s a luxury, sure, and the faux-hipster-Portlandia-organic-crystal-yoga mentality gets mocked for being pretentious, but we would like to limit the amount of hands and machines our food passes through— and both our parents raised us with gardens in our back yards.
So we indulge and try to meet the people who grow our food and get the food directly from them when we can. The idea that an apple is picked in one country, then packaged, and then sent off to another country on a ship or plane and transported in a semi truck and then stored and then ripened with chemicals in a warehouse and then put on a shelf, just seems wasteful when there are apple trees in the area. I know it’s probably silly to most, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to be more conscious of and Paula had already been practicing this when I met her fifty years ago.
Speaking of Farmer’s Markets I bought my first cappuccino this week! We were at our local farmer’s market where we grunt and point because my German is sophisticated enough to be able to say “I want that” and “how much that” and “thank you bye” and Paula’s German consists of smiles and nods.
But we picked up some great veggies and fresh made raviolis (with spinach and ricotta) and there was a group of women selling loaves of bread and coffee from a truck and Paula had previously been there and was eager to take me and we got a loaf of bread I picked out (which was a sourdough ciabatta which was wonderfulness) and Paula picked out a loaf (that was sun-dried tomato oregano which looked great and only looked great and still looks great in the bag now stale because it didn’t taste great).
So, we bought bread and we decided to get two coffee’s and sit for a bit after our long day of picking out local carrots and local potatoes and local beets and we needed two coffees to soothe our veggie brains and after last weeks fiasco with Paula’s mishaps at the French bakery ordering coffee I did what any husband should do, and told her to step aside so I could completely foul things up.
Two coffee’s please, I said in German, which I believe sounded like, “blah, blah, blah, blah” to the nice lady. I still am not sure how to order two plain old normal coffees.
She replied, “blah, blah, blah, blah blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah blah.” I knew I had her on the ropes.
“Zwei Kaffe, bitte. Eins mit Milch.” Two coffees. One with milk. It seemed so terribly easy for me.
“With Milk” she repeated in English to show me that she knew not only what I wanted but an easier way to say it.
“Eins” I repeated, hoping she got it that I only wanted one coffee with milk, “und eins Schwartz” (one black, although I’m not sure if this translates and might mean something terrifying. You can’t transliterate German into English. If you went into a store and it’s a sweltering 32 degrees outside and the woman says, “Hi, how are you?” auf Deutsch and you reply “Ich bin heiss” It doesn’t mean “My core temperature is competing with the eye of the sun” but “I’m hot” as in “My body was sculpted by Michelangelo. Would you like to touch my deltoids?”)
“Grosse order Klien?” She asked. Go big or go home (someone once said, I think) We ordered two large gross (odd word there, two gross coffees?)
Both large, I said, or that’s what I think I said (beide Gross)
She nodded and smiled and we paid for the coffees and two loaves of bread. She took our money and gave us change and turned around and said to the woman making coffee “Zwei Cappachunios”
“No, no no no” I said. “Kein Cappuccino.” Normalish Coffee. Eins mit Milch. Nur espresso mit wasser bitte.”
She looked at me with this expression: “Yes. I’m not stupid. Two coffees one with milk. One black. We call them Americanos because American’s can’t do anything authentic so even your espresso has to be watered down. I’m smiling but I think you’re an idiot.”
Actually, she just nodded, kindly, and said, “yes, yes.”
We took our seats.
Two coffee cups came. They were placed in front of us. One large, and one small. One coffee with milk (Wunderbar!!) and the other looked like it had milk too.
“The large one has milk. Why do you have a small coffee? Did we only order one large?”
“We must have,” and then looked at the small coffee, “this one has milk too.”
“Take the large one then.”
“It’s okay. This is a cappuccino. Enjoy your coffee.”
“Maybe this isn’t our order”
“Oh, this is our order alright”
“Shouldn’t you say something?”
“Why not, this isn’t what you want? Tell them. We can get a refund.”
“I think I’ve said enough. I don’t think that every person who orders coffee gets a completely different order. Clearly it’s my fault. I’m the idiot and I’ll suffer my cappuccino.”
I took a sip and a moment later a large black coffee arrived. Not to fix the error, but as the completion to our order.
Paula was kind enough to get me a take-away cup.
It was the first cappuccino I’ve ever bought and it was damn good.
Late that night Paula made me potato leak soup with rosemary and so everything is good in the world.