First Bite of the Season By: Barbie Flores
Imagine a kaleidoscope sea, laden with the color of the deepest magenta, purples the color of royal garments and the richest reds screaming for attention? Imagine the colors of velvety forest green, eye-popping yellow, toasty, cognac, and pumpkin-orange hues beaming right at you? Now, layer these colors with textures, shiny, smooth, rugged, coarse, velvety and even frilly? This is the way I see food when I go to a Farmer’s Market this time of year. I see apples, zucchini, pumpkins, eggplant, beets, chocolate peppers and butternut squash and my mind immediately conjures up the aromas that accompany these foods when cooked. The memory of layers oozing with fragrant shallots, sweating in olive oil, carrots, onions and celery simmering in broth, butternut squash roasting in the oven, cinnamon and apples caramelizing or brown sugar and sweet potatoes baking in those pies we love, comes flooding back to me! Not tough to get your brain and your appetite wrapped around this, right? These are the aromas of Sweet and Savory who come to visit me to visit me in my kitchen during this time of year. They often bring Comforting, Nutty, Creamy, Chunky and Tangy and others with them! When I see the foods at market I also think of quality and freshness. I have this passion for shopping. It has nothing to do with clothes, shoes, or make-up. I could feel “falling down” tired and if someone says, “Hey Barbie, want to head down to the Farmers’ Market?” I’m signed up for it immediately! There is something quite fascinating to me about the smells, the colors and the textures I see in the food at market but the idea that the product came from the local tierra (earth), the enthusiasm of the growers and of course, the thoughts about the finished meal are also very important. I want to emphasize of course, that no matter what we cook, it’s always economical to use what is in season. Soon I’ll be eating what I’m buying…the freshest foods possible. Inasmuch as the local foods of the season amaze me, they are also comforting but not as the proverbial phrase “comfort food” goes. I like that I know exactly where my food is coming from and that fewer hands have touched it because it is produced locally. With foods at Farmers’ Markets there is no process of packaging or shipping. So we’re not using up a bunch of resources. Believe it or not, buying food sensibly gives us an opportunity to do our part to lessen our Carbon Footprint, on the environment and give back to mother earth.