Saturday, April 18, 2009

green-eyed monster

I think I have run through my share of sinful emotions (behaviors?) in life. But I’ll say this – I am not especially prone to feelings of envy. I like it when people fare well for themselves. That they travel, have summer cottages in beautiful places, eat well, write books, look beautiful, have perfect dogs, perfect aunts, nieces and nephews – all gathering together for large Sunday meals, preferably outdoors under a grape arbor, at a long table covered with a red-checked tablecloth – fantastic! I could watch a movie about other peoples’ happiness again and again.

But sometimes, at rare and odd times, the green-eyed monster pops up. Here I am, ready to torture you!

Take today: I wake up, step out on the balcony and I am absolutely joyous at seeing the first market of the year (both the downtown Farmers Market and the Westside Community Market began their outdoor sales on this day).


Ed and I cross the street, my Pierrerue basket swinging with us, and voila, there it is! My very own, very local Westside Community Market.


I emphasize “local,” because our farmers markets sell only local, Wisconsin grown and produced foods and plants.


And this “only local” rule is great. At least, it’s great in April through October. The tradeoff is that if you don’t throw some California or Florida produce at us in winter, we get almost nothing that grows (I say almost because the cold spell does still give us hoop spinach and greenhouse tomatoes), unless you count mold grown on cheese and I haven’t seen much of that either in this otherwise cheesy state.

By contrast, French markets are year-round. But they are not local. You can tell where each product is from (there are signs) – what region in France, or perhaps Italy, or Spain – but you definitely get an infusion of the more distant stuff. Local stands are mixed in with stands that sell south of the border fruits, and local cheeses are supplemented with the usual Roqueforts and Reblechons from the other parts of France.

Is this better? I’m not saying that. We couldn’t have outdoor markets in Madison anyway, so why create a winter “grocery store” of produce and cheese once a week indoors?

Here’s why: because the produce is so limited in the winter, I don’t bother going to the indoor winter market in Madison. But I would go if it had just that little more for me to buy. It wouldn’t be my local across the street market, true, but I’m willing to drive a little to buy a lot. Or, a lot more than I see myself buying now at the “only from Wisconsin” winter market. From November til mid-April, I stay home and mope and wish we were more, well, France-like.

Or maybe this is simply too big a country. Zipping up Florida oranges to Wisconsin seems a bigger deal than zipping up Spain oranges to France. Or am I wrong? We already get a shrimp guy driving up once a month from the Gulf and he seems happy with his sales in Madison!

All this to say that the farmers markets in Madison are superb. And they conjure up in me that green-eyed monster as I think how those who have bountiful, or even halfway bountiful markets every week, without pause are so damn lucky! Simply put – I’m jealous.


But not for the next six and a half months. Right now, I’m in my joyous mode: the markets have arrived. Including my local one, just across the street. Bliss.