Adventure at the Farmer’s Market

iStock_farmers marketEthan and I set out for the Farmer’s Market on Thursday afternoon (first time this year, I’m sorry to say) in the Jeep Wrangler, top down, doors off. What a gorgeous day! Since Ethan’s a foodie (he’s 8, watches Iron  Chef, Barefoot Contessa, Rachel Ray, etc., and LOVES to make us app’s and/or dinner by himself with absolutely no supervision or recipes), I gave him money to spend on whatever he thought would be good for our family. You’d think–by the bounce in his step, the grin on that sweet face, his eyes bright as he took it all in–that we had just entered a carnival with fried donuts, corn dogs and wild roller coasters.

A gourmet pizza vendor was at the entrance and, of course, he was hungry–even though we had just eaten lunch–and chose to buy a slice. “How much for a slice?” he asked, pulling out some bills from deep in his cargo shorts pocket, slamming them down as if he was at the Black Jack table. The guys behind the table were quite amused.

We proceeded to explore the market, which was just a straightaway with vendors under white pop-up tents on either side, right next to the commuter train tracks. There was music playing, a nice breeze blowing and we walked up and down at least a couple of times. It was important for him to scope everything out first, a reusable bag slung over his shoulder. Eventually, I found myself holding his partially eaten slice of ‘za.

Then it was time for sampling. Bread. Olives. Cheese. Michigan cherries. It was obvious he did not want this to end. And neither did I–it was such a pleasure to watch him revel in the seemingly endless choices. Finally, Ethan was ready to make some decisions. He grabbed some organic blueberries and a slab of gruyere (the cheese guy was not very happy–but was kind–when Ethan tossed his bills onto the cutting board). I plucked up a bunch of beets, a carton of snap peas and other veggies along the way… and he kept disappearing, impatient to move along. Vegetables, after all, are not exactly fun to consider.

We ran into Mary Rose, his cooking teacher (yes, he has had some cooking classes), who was taking down her tent after a day of cooking demos. She and I talked briefly… it was the third “come on, mom!” that signaled me to say good-bye.

The marinated olive vendor was next. He checked out each container 2 or 3 times–there had to be at least ten different selections. When it was our turn, he grabbed a random container and asked, “What’s this one?” Green and black olives marinated in lemon and anise. “What’s anise?” The woman told him it tasted kind of like licorice. I pointed out that she wasn’t referring to the red Twizzler type. She offered a sample and he popped it in his mouth. A slow nod matched the rhythm of his chewing and he finally said, “We’ll take one of those.” He knelt down on the concrete and laid out the money, separating the ones from the fives, counting and re-counting. He stood up, handed a wad of ones to her while he stuffed the rest of the bills back  into his pocket.  He wouldn’t leave until she counted the money (although it was obvious she would have been okay if we just moved on).

We wandered around some more, eating a couple olives along the way, and ended up at a baked goods table, manned by a nun. He looked everything over very carefully and I expected him to seize one of the pastries. Instead he pointed to the French Baguette. “What’s this?” The nun told him. “Is it whole grain?” he asked. I will never ever forget that question as long as I live. Proof that I am, in fact, health nut. She chuckled and showed him a loaf of bread. “This is whole wheat,” she said. “We’ll take it,” he answered, handing me his bag so he could pull more loose bills out of his pocket, dropping a couple.

Leaving the Farmer’s Market behind, we casually walked, hand and hand, in the direction of the car. But he needed a break, so we sat on a bench by the war memorial. He pulled out his $5 slice of cheese (ouch) and realized that some of my stuff somehow got into his bag. How could that have happened, he wondered. We had apparently switched bags and he had to re-organize everything so only his stuff was in his bag. He took out the blueberries for us to eat. And a couple more olives. A train passed by while we sat there.

When he was ready, we got up and started walking again. It took us a while to get to the car since he wanted to browse at the art store–enticed by the fountain inside the window–and then hang out in the brick gazebo (more blueberries and olives). Although he didn’t really want to go home, the time had come. We made our way back to the Jeep and chatted about all the good stuff we’d found. The drive back was a bit cooler, refreshing. I can’t wait until next Thursday and neither can he. But next time, I’m bringing the camera.

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