Food is personal. The nature of selling products at farmers market, even home-cooked food with local farm ingredients, can be an impersonal process. If nothing else the impersonal can often make choosing easier and less guilt ridden. Busy families and individuals don’t always want to stop and shoot the breeze on my latest innovation from the kitchen. As a natural introvert forced into extroversion by what I do for a living, I often crave the anonymity of the local grocery store. Farmers Markets, however, thrive on the weekly interpersonal relationships between the producers and the customers. I have people who stop by each week to give me their take on our menu. Allergies, new diets, seasonal changes, and personal proclivities for specific tastes are the heart of my conversations with customers. I enjoy making food that feeds people on multiple levels.
Unfortunately I am not at every farmers market that we supply every week. I can’t have these conversations with everyone. Because of my dedicated staff at all of the seven markets we attend, I do hear second-hand what people would like to see in our coolers each week. There is more feedback, however, that would make planning the weekly kitchen menu easier. Here are some of the questions I would like to know the answers to:
- Do you eat seasonally?
- Which of our soups/chilis would you like to see more often?
- Does the spelt & oat & semolina pasta digest better for those sensitive to gluten?
- How was the Caldo Verde (Kale soup with our fresh pork chorizo)?
- If I make a big batch of meatloaf, how many will come by market to get a box?
- What recipes that you haven’t seen in a while would you like to return?
- Why do creamy, milk based sauces (made with local fresh milk) not sell as well as tomato sauces?
- What about those pork and beef rillettes I made?
This week, I made beef chili because Maribel, the lovely woman who works for Smith Meadows at the Falls Church market wrote me a note. “A customer really wants Black Bean and Beef Chili.” So I made chili and was happy to do so. For those of you who respond with enthusiasm to products that only I make, thank you. The rare connoisseurs of uncommon treats like rillette are wonderful, but the kitchen business must also respond to what sells best. As much as I would enjoy being a personal chef, it is not the business I run. There are many unfamiliar faces asking for favorites out of season, so I should say this right now: basil pesto is not in season until very warm weather arrives and squid ink pasta will never be in season for Smith Meadows.
To further a conversation with my loyal patrons, here is how I am eating right now. I recently had a session with a friend and nutritional counselor, Jiji Russell, and she turned me on to a valuable book called The 3-Season Diet by John Douillard and a new way of looking at the FOOD PYRAMID via the Institute for Intergrative Nutrition. Because of my career and where I live my food pyramid is front and center each day. Lately I have been picking watercress to make soup because it is just Spring, and I like to sit with the peepers singing to me as I work. Pasta has become a treat I eat with my son 2x a week, where as Salad is my new staple at lunch and dinner. Kimchi makes an excellent appetizer as I work to get dinner on the table. Sipping warm red, green and herbal teas all day long keep me from grabbing spoonfuls of peanut butter and chocolate. I am walking more and sitting less as I come out of hibernation.
As I said in the beginning of this blog: food is personal. It does not, however, have to be a secret. I encourage everyone to share how they are eating lately on our Kitchen Face Book Page. Let us know what you like and what you want to see at our market stand each week. Eat well and live well. Buon Appetito!