Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lancashire Boulevard Farmer's Market

This past weekend began as a drive around Bella Vista to drop in on some of the plentiful garage sales that great fall weather can bring.  It won’t be long before the weather turns too cool for outdoor sales.  The garage sales dampen our spirits, as it seems the good stuff has pretty well been picked clean by 10a.m.  I do grab three books for .50 apiece, including a pretty beat first edition of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, and an obscure book about baking bread called Our Daily Bread(with one bread recipe for every day of the year, including Leap Year!).

On our way back from the Highlands part of Bella Vista, we stop by the mini farmer’s market on Lancashire Boulevard near Duffer’s CafĂ©.  There are really only two or three groups of people selling their wares.  First is a woman selling homemade breads, jams, salsas and chutneys, as well as some vegetables like squash and peppers.  She is a fan of purity in everything she cooks and cans.  She orders all her flour from Vermont, and refuses to cut the jams and chutneys with any kind of preservatives.  Since the jams and chutneys look practically identical, I ask her what distinguishes one from the other.   Jams are sweeter, and are what we conventionally eat with crackers, pancakes, waffles and peanut butter.  Chutneys have vinegar and spices.  They have more of a bite, and tend to be condiments for adding flavor to different types of meats.  Chutneys can also be mixed with vinaigrette to make salad dressing, or with plain yogurt to add flavor.  I decide to try a jar of blueberry lime jam.  Peach jams and chutneys are abundant since this is the end of peach season, but as usual I want to try something a little different.  The blueberry lime jam is wonderful by the way. 

Next  my eyes wander down to an adjoining table where someone is selling fresh peaches.  I used to live in eastern Iowa, where we eagerly awaited the arrival of Missouri peaches every summer.  So I stand a bit taller when they tell me that these are Missouri peaches.  You would imagine that one who lives on the border straddling Missouri and Arkansas would have free access to Missouri peaches.  But most of the peaches do not have the flavor that we came to associate with Missouri peaches when I was living in Iowa.  I share my story with the group selling Missouri peaches, and they nod their heads affirmatively.  Maybe they agree, or maybe they have heard northerners like me before.  They also tell me that I am welcome to sample a piece of a peach.  A seated man with sunglasses and a panama hat hands me a peach, an apple and a pocketknife.  And he invites me to sample their wares.  Well I cut a bit of peach off and taste it.  Sad to say that it does not have the tangy taste I had come to expect from Missouri peaches.  When I render my verdict, the man said that this is the end of the harvest, and that the peaches earlier in the harvest were considerably tangier.  These peaches would be good for pie.  They are a bit sour.  The sugar in peach pie would undoubtedly kill the sour taste.  Then the Missourians tell me to taste the apple if I want something tangy.  So I use the pocket knife to slice a piece off.  It does  have a zing to it.  Then I tell them about the unpasteurized apple cider we drank in Iowa.  It was the darkest cider I have ever seen.  Kickapoo Apple Cider from Kickapoo, Wisconsin. 

This has been a good Saturday morning.  We’ll be back this way again.  I think we made some new friends today.

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