Monday, August 20, 2007

Finding Faith in Local Food

I haven’t spent much time in New York City this summer. In fact, since the beginning of May, I have only spent 2 weekends in Manhattan - this past weekend being my second. I really enjoy spending my summer weekends in Cutchogue, my home town, where I can be by the water, by bountiful farm stands selling the freshest local produce, and - by far the biggest perk - in cooler temperatures. It is HOT in New York City in the summer.

So for a change of pace, and for a very good reason, I stayed in New York City this weekend. My good friend from college was in town, and we had a lot of catching up to do....which of course took place over food! Because we both love to cook, and love the process of cooking, we decided in advance to make a meal together on Saturday night.

We began our dinner preparations at the Union Square greenmarket - a famous outdoor market where local farmers from Long Island, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley sell their produce and specialities all year round on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The Union Square greenmarket is an urban paradise. In an area that is probably a quarter in size to a city-block, dozens and dozens of farmers set up tables showing off their varieties of heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs and other mouth-watering legume- wonders.

Walking around the greenmarket is euphoric and sensual. You don’t have to be a foodie to appreciate that the smells and colors of the fresh produce and local baked goods is a nice change to the more traditional smells of New York City - i.e. exhaust and garbage. With a menu in mind (chicken shish-kabobs [picture included], grilled corn on the cob and a fresh heirloom tomato and basil salad), my friend and I wondered from table to table shopping for the dinner’s ingredients.

With the smell of fresh tarragon and rosemary in the air, walking around the Union Square greenmarket sort of felt like a religious experience. Feeling like the produce and smells were larger than me, the greenmarket became my sanctuary - my place for reflection and meditation. After all, for a locavore like me, of course I would want to pray to a large bouquet of fresh basil!

After an hour or so in Union Square, my friend and I carried our bags of vegetables back to my apartment to begin preparing our dinner. With the herbs washed and left to dry on my counter, my apartment began to take on the smells of the greenmarket. Almost instantaneously, my small New York City apartment took on the big smells of a country farmstand. Believing that local produce tastes much better than any vegetable bought in a super market, it was nice to have an urban experience that not only tasted fresh, but felt divine.

Until next time...


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