In recent weeks, I have switched out shopping for produce at the grocery store with shopping at the Farmers’ Market. The experience is certainly bringing with it certain comforts and discomforts and after speaking to a few others, I realized that I was not alone in my apparently ‘random’ thoughts:
Week 1 – The market was intimidating and restrictive. There was so much to choose from and yet there was an absence of some of my habitual items.
Week 2 – I took the plunge. I promised myself not to over think it and just pick up produce on an instinct. I was still figuring out how to prepare some of these less familiar items but there was one certainty, they sure tasted better.
Week 3 – Freedom. There was a freedom in making choices within what nature intended to be eaten ‘locally’. Rather than showing up with my predestined menu and seeking ingredients to support the dish, the farmers market ‘rightfully’ shifted the balance of power. The dish would be inspired by the vegetables. But I wasn’t just there for the food. The vendors moved me with their stories, the customers nourished me with their suggestions, the relationship with the produce was tactile and there was a satisfaction in was washing the grit from under my finger nails. This was so simple and yet so humanizing. No Styrofoam packaging and shrink wrapping, just bare and imperfect vegetables.
Sure, the produce is a little more expensive and there are no value packs and specials, but isn’t this how we started to lose respect for food in the first place? Buy more and waste more? Whatever goes in to my shopping bag now gets full utilization because now I shop with full intention and purpose.
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This week, I was charmed by the delicate yellow string beans and potatoes. The beans were tender and their happy yellow color put a smile on my face. Something so beautiful requires very little work. I sautéed them in a splash of cumin infused oil and potatoes. Delicious.
Yellow String Beans and Cumin
- 1 tbsp. oil
- ¾ tsp. cumin seeds
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 lb. baby potatoes
- 1 lb. green beans, tips removed and cut in to 1 cm pieces
- ½ a tomato, sliced thinly
- Handful of cilantro
1) Heat the oil on high, add the cumin and fry for about 4 seconds, the cumin will turn a couple of shades darker and will become aromatic
2) Add the potatoes, turmeric, salt and pepper and cook until almost done
3) Add the string beans and tomato slices and cook until tender
4) Garnish with cilantro
Saira Malhotra is a classically trained French chef and graduate from the French Culinary Institute. A British born Punjabi, Saira has grown up around food which started from her family pizza business in a small suburb of London. Having studied in France and Italy and living in the Big Apple for the past 12 years, Saira has brought her European, Asian and American influences together via the palate and communicated through her food blog ‘Passport Pantry’.