My response to the Challenge of “Fresh” begins at the Alemany Farmers Market of San Francisco, perhaps the city’s biggest, one spread out over roughly 3 acres in the southeast corner of the Mission District. California’s oldest farmers market, the “People’s Farmers Market” has brought the rural to the urban since 1947, and draws big crowds throughout the weekend. I live in one of America’s most expensive cities, and any place of business where the necessities of life are both excellent and cheap will bring in the people.
For example, yours truly. I had forgotten to visit the bank on the way over from the Lower Haight (incredibly, the 24-Divisadero is almost a door-to-door ride), so after a lunch of two 7-ounce tamales ($6 plus $1 tip) I budgeted myself to a limit of $20 for my planned lunches and some of my dinners for the upcoming work week.
I ended up with 3.25 pounds of tomatoes, partly for a coulis in which to cook shrimp and summer squash and partly for a paella; three red onions and two Anaheim chilis; 2.25 pounds of zucchini; three nectarines; and in a flash of inspiration 8 small avocados, some of which will go into the shrimp dish and the rest for guacamole.
But since San Francisco practically flaunts contrasts, I had to include this last shot, taken only about 50 yards away from all of this delicious goodness:
Vonn Scott Bair