Farmers' markets are the new village green, says award-winning cookbook author Deborah Madison. This movement has blossomed into more than 3,000 markets across the country, places where you can run into old friends, meet new ones, discover new fruits and vegetables, and go home with bags and bags of fresh, delicious, and seasonal produce.
For all of us who go to the markets and get completely carried away with what we see, Madison has designed more than 350 recipes that take advantage of this, whether it's the greens, salad, and herbs of the spring's bounty or the root vegetables, apples, and squash of the fall harvest. Her recipes highlight seasonal ingredients (Spring Risotto with Sorrel, Roast Chicken with Herbs Under the Skin, or Parsnip Salad with Walnuts and Dates) as well as regional foods (Soft Tacos with Roasted Green Chiles or Hickory Nut Torte). There are recipes using market foods found in the winter months, too.
The chapters in Local Flavors are organized not by courses of the meal, but by seasons and botanical families, like the stone fruits and the nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants). In each chapter, Madison reports on a visit to a particular market -- say Cortez and Durango in mid-August or San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Market in October -- and composes meals from the market produce available at that time. Dozens of full-color photos of the markets, the shoppers, the farmers, and the dishes complete the course.
- Plan to spend some leisurely time at the market.
- If you don't recognize what you see, or need a tip on how to cook it, ask the growers.
- Bring cash.
- "Take a feast-now approach when shopping.... A favorite peach might be around for only two weeks, so buy accordingly and enjoy."