Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Farmers' Markets

When Miriam and Alice visited Ann Arbor, we went to the Farmers' Market. At the market, farmers sell flowers, vegetables, fruit, maple sugar, jam, and pies. We all loved the dark brown maple candy that we bought from a farmer who gets the maple sap from his trees in spring, boils the syrup, and makes the candy. We bought fresh peaches, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, potatoes, and purple and white eggplants, and cooked lots of good things when we got home.

Now a lot of people say that people don't eat fruit and vegetables enough. But Miriam and Alice eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Alice likes to eat vegetables like corn or cucumbers at dinner time. Miriam likes lots of berries on her cereal for breakfast. She sometimes skips the cereal and just eats berries if she can!

A long time ago my father liked to go to a market called the Soulard Market in St.Louis. We would go with him. The building was more indoors than the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market, with old-fashioned columns. At one end was an inside place where some market-sellers sold regular groceries like candy and canned goods. My father liked to talk to the people who worked in the market, and he liked to buy big baskets of tomatoes or peaches or potatoes just like we still buy.

Between the columns were booths with piles of apples, peaches, and so on. Most of the people who sold fruit and vegetables at Soulard were not farmers. They bought produce from farmers and sold it in their stall every day. In Ann Arbor, the farmers spend most of their time growing things, and only come to market once or twice a week to sell things. Often their children help them. At the farmers' market in Fairfax by the railroad station, the farmers also come once a week to sell the tomatoes, corn, and other things that they grow.

Elaine wrote about slurp sauce, which is a sauce cooked from lots of fruit. Miriam and Alice and I made slurp sauce from peaches, plums, and raspberries. We dipped the peaches in a big pot of boiling water, which made them very hot, and made it easier to peel them. We washed the raspberries, sliced all the plums and peaches, and cooked it for a while, and then put some sugar in to make it sweeter. When my father bought a basket of peaches at the Soulard Market, this was what my mother used to do with the fruit, and Evelyn and I did it when she was a little girl too. We also sometimes went out into the country and bought peaches from the orchards. Once we picked peaches from the trees, but that was not fun because of all the peach fuzz. When we were little children, our mother cooked lots of fruit and vegetables, just like Evelyn does now.

At the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market we saw tomatoes in many sizes and colors. Sliced tomatoes are really good to eat, but little tomatoes are more fun. When we were children, we only had big red tomatoes. Farmers had not discovered how to grow little tomatoes like cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes yet or yellow and orange tomatoes.

The Soulard Market was always a good place to get big ripe tomatoes, but we also had some much closer to home. Our next-door neighbor Mr. Boles had a garden with many types of tomatoes. He would bring us some, and ask if we liked them. His job was to help farmers find new good vegetables to grow.

We can't always go to the farmers' market because there isn't enough time. But it is really good to go sometimes, and see what the farmers have just grown. We met the farmer who keeps bees and sells beeswax and honey. We talked to the farmer who had dug up potatoes the day before market day, and we saw the corn that had been picked that morning before dawn. We met a little girl who said it was hard to pick raspberries because your hands got so red, but if you wore gloves, you wouldn't be able to feel what you were doing and you would crush the delicate fruit. Some people call it "slow food" and say it's better. But even if sometimes you get your fruit from Safeway, it's all good food.

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