Sunday, September 5, 2010

a market in a new land

A farmer’s market offers a universal experience for me-- smiles and enthusiasm radiates from vendors to the shoppers from freshly dug potato to canvas bags brimming over. For me there is no more fulfilling day then a jaunt through a market on a mission of discovery. Late summer in the northern hemisphere is bringing tomatoes, ears of corn, blueberries, and peppers galore all to feed the insatiable hunger of a growing worldwide army of locavores. Here in Tokyo baby ginger and lotus root are popping up everywhere but the also found was black fermented garlic bulbs, sesame oil extracted to order and a new variety of plum the was a cross between a green gage and elephant heart, all most exciting. It is great to see the vertically stacked denizens of a densely packed city grabbing their re-useable bags and desire; starting their day squeezing through aisles flanked by stalks displaying local initiative and subsequent bounty. Root vegetables crusted with dried earth, artisinal breads and muffins, hand-thrown crockery perfectly askew all vie for our attention and love.

As so many times before for me when I have been traveling, I am confronted with my usual dilemma – desire out weighing the practical. I am not home so buying more than can be eaten raw or nibbled on the spot must be stored in my warehouse of memory for a future use. But this time I may just be a very temporary cog in this urban wheel, but I went with the absolute intention of buying and I did. Arriving back home at my friend’s house with corn, red okra, tomatoes, Japanese leeks, peppery green sprouts and of course, the garlic and bottle of black sesame oil. Dinner was going to be my pleasure.

It is our collective pleasure to enjoy a meal with good friends, family and even strangers. Though what is also evident is that we, as a people, respond to the fruits of the earth intrinsically understanding the language of good food.

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