The Civic Center’s farmers’ market (Wednesdays and Sundays) is the Peoples’ Farmers’ Market. Unlike the touristas’ farmers’ market at the Embarcadero (I’ve seen zucchini there for $6.99/pound, and I am not making this up), the Civic Center’s market has become the grocery of San Francisco’s less-than-rich. At seven a.m., elderly Asians from our poorest neighborhoods line up to purchase live chickens. During the morning, students from the nearby culinary schools load up on their homework. At noon, the middle-class white, pink and blue collar workers add fresh fruit to their lunches, purchase the ingredients for their families’ next few dinners (zucchini is $0.75/pound), or even buy their lunches from the food trucks and listen to live music.
Among my co-workers, the noon trip to the market marks the halfway point to the week, where they can start to anticipate and plan for the weekend. We also have pretty decent morale in the office, which means that we come back from the market with strawberries from Central Coast farmers, dried fruits and/or almonds from Cipponeri Family Farms (very, very popular), or other goodies (NEWSFLASH: It’s CHERRY SEASON!).
The Civic Center farmers’ market is also the home of unusual combinations. Until I saw this duo on Sunday, I never realized that I had never realized that I would ever see this:
It looks bizarre until you listen to them–then it sounds inevitable. The instruments fit together beautifully.
Today’s market was loaded with CHERRIES! (I get a little over-excited this time of year), strawberries, and snow peas; the apricots, nectarines and peaches made their first appearance. One of the citrus farms introduced a fruit I had never heard of before: the “blood lime.” As in blood orange, except it’s a lime. I bought one (inexpensive risk) and took it home for experimentation. The flesh was even redder than a blood orange’s. The taste was a huge surprise; absolutely the least bitter lime I have ever tasted, with strong hints of blood orange as well. I combined the juice with just a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and drizzled the vinaigrette over sliced strawberries (also from the market, of course. Excellent! I like blood limes much better than Key limes and recommend them for the same uses; might also be great with sparkling wine or other cocktails.
That’s San Francisco; a place where even the local farmers’ market has the power to astound with new and strange combinations.
Vonn Scott Bair