To Market-My Annual Trip to St. Norbert

July20

I stayed in from the lake this weekend (on the hottest weekend of the year) for my annual visit to St. Norbert Market.  Was it worth it?  Well the amazing tomatoes that we have sliced thinly onto clubhouse sandwiches or topped with an old balsamic vinegar and chevre, and the tiny cucumbers that we added with fresh mint to our shrimp rice rolls-say yes it was!

I am reminded once again of my favourite read of this spring: Keeping The Feast by Paula Butturini.  I want to share this partial recounting of her visit to her favourite green market vendor:

“On that sunny August morning, Domenico was selling fat round heads of soft Bibb lettuce and wild-looking heads of curly endive.  He had crates of romaine lettuce, whose elongated heads form the base of many salads, and tight little knobs of red radicchio, to add colour.  He had fistfuls of wild arugula, which the Romans call rughetta and use to add a peppery bite to a meal.  He had foot-long bunches of Swiss chard, tiny new shoots of broccoli rabe, bunches of slim scallions.  He had bouquets of zucchini flowers, which Romans stuff with mozzarella and anchovy, dip in a light flour-and-water batter, then deep fry until golden.

He had flat, green broad beans, the kind Romans stew slowly in garlic, onion and tomato.  He had red and white runner beans, which housewives use to fill out a summer vegetable soup, and regular green beans, tiny,  just picked, perfect for blanching and serving with a dribble of olive oil and lemon juice.  Domenico also had the usual array of tomatoes, each with specific uses: tiny cherry tomatoes, so good halved and turned into a Neapolitan-style sauce; meaty, plum tomatoes used for endless tomato-based pasta sauces; salad tomatoes, always slightly green, as the Romans prefer them.  He had Casilino tomatoes too-small, flat, highly creased, with a sunlit, concentrated flavour, favoured by Roman housewives for raw sauces during summer’s worst heat.  He had gigantic beefsteak tomatoes, too, meat for stuffing and baking with rice, potato wedges, oil, and herbs.

That day Domenico was also selling carrots, celery, cucumbers, lemons.  He had skinny frying peppers and fat bell-peppers-red, yellow, and green-which the Romans love to roast and serve with garlic and oil.  He had yellow-and red-skinned potatoes and the tough cow corn that Europeans seem to think people as well as cows can eat.  He hat fat, glossy, black-skinned eggplants, and long narrow white ones with bright markings near the stem.  He had hot red pepperoncini, tiny peppers still on the stalk ready for drying, and several types of zucchini, some a deep dark green, others light and striated, none of them much bigger than an American hot dog, all sweet and free of seeds because of their tiny size. 

He was selling round yellow onions, sweet red onions, and flat white onions.  He had garlic and fennel bulbs, their feathery dark tips a dark, cool green,  He also had eggs, brown-shelled, as the Romans favour them, their shells never quite as clean as a shopper would hope.” 

Kath’s quote: “Farmers are the only indispensable people on the face of the earth.”-Li Zhaoxing

 


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2 Comments to

“To Market-My Annual Trip to St. Norbert”

  1. Avatar July 23rd, 2011 at 9:12 pm Lori Says:

    I’ve so been wanting to get out to St. Norbert for the market but weekends at the cabin have taken over! If you are out in the Whiteshell, Lac du bonet and Seven Sisters both have markets on the weekends!


  2. Avatar July 24th, 2011 at 9:05 am kath Says:

    Lor, They may have a smaller Wednesday market too. Check on their website.


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