In my book, Warm Intrigues, Tyre and Phoenix visit The Farmer’s Market held in the South Suburbs of Chicago. It reads:
“I say the Farmer’s Market, first. Then, eat,” he answered.“Okay,” she agreed. At the Farmer’s Market, they picked nice healthy tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans. He added a few sweet potatoes. They both made individual choices, and they moved along the aisles like clockwork. When they had completed the shopping spree, they put their bags in the back of his SUV.
Well, today, I thought about that imaginary trip of theirs as I visited The Farmer’s Market for the first time on the North Shore of Chicago. As I approached the lot where it was held, I heard a man singing as he strummed his guitar.
Before I actually saw him, I passed by the first row of vendors and saw toddlers’ clothes hanging at a booth that also had beautifully hand-crafted quilts. Further down, there were wind chimes that looked like they were made of stained glass along with other mobile items. I had to quickly remind myself that I had mainly come for vegetables.
So, I made my way to another row where I saw all types of vegetables being displayed. I could then see the man singing as he played his guitar. Dollars filled his open guitar case and there was a little girl dancing with her father. How cute!
I made my first purchase. It was a bunch of fresh Spearmint. It brought back memories of how we used to pick it in my early childhood days in rural Michigan. My mother would put some in a pitcher of cold water and it gave us a good, minty taste. Adding a tad of honey makes it even more enjoyable.
From another vendors’ table, I bought a few small white potatoes, an onion, some yellow squash and zucchini. The yellow squash and the zucchini can be washed, sliced. Let them simmer together; drain and add a few sliced tomatoes. Warm them all together and there’d be a succulent side dish.
I continued to browse. One man walked by with a huge container of freshly baked loaves of bread. Many people stopped moving and their eyes followed him to see where that good smelling bread was going to land. It reminded me of a scene from a children’s story where a man shouted, “Hot cross buns! Get your hot cross buns!”
Again, I had to refocus on my mission when I turned and saw a table selling sweets. I broke down and bought a small loaf of banana bread. Who could resist?
A woman walked by who was eating something that she was really enjoying. I asked her what it was and she said, “It’s called a Sandy Special. I came here just to get this.” I asked where she got it and she said at the Tamale Express Stand. She pointed the way and said that I would see a long line.
I went to get my Sandy Special and sure enough, when I got to the booth, there was a long line. I ordered my special. The woman carved the corn off the cob into a paper tray and asked me for my choice of meat. I had a choice of steak, chicken or Tilapia. I chose chicken and walked away with a mix of chicken, chopped onions, green pepper chips, diced tomatoes and of course the corn. There was heavy seasoning and I left smiling as I headed to the tables at the back of the lot to chow down.
I thought that I would have some left over to take home, so I asked for an extra bag. But, that did not happen. I ate it all. It was delicious and I will be returning for another Sandy Special.
After that, I knew that I should be heading out. I saw and heard two other young musicians. One was playing a violin and the other played a bass. A little boy sat and their feet listening. I heard him say, “Play something faster.” The musicians simply laughed.
I treated myself to a bouquet of freshly picked flowers. The bouquet included lilies and I know I will further enjoy them when they open up. On the way out, I paused to price the quilts and asked for the vendor’s business card. She said that she makes them herself. She will be seeing me again as well.
It was a splendid day at my first Farmer’s Market on the North Shore and it was a great way to spend a portion of my Saturday!
Lynn M. July 12, 2015