Longwinded rambles about the farmers’ market

The farmers’ market today was awesome. It is raining steadily, and the crowds were just as thick as they always are, which makes me happy. Brian was astonished that I would think fewer people would go – it’s Portland, he said. Very few people with umbrellas either, heh. Both of us had rain-proof jackets. I had my rain hat on (a cabbie hat) and he has had a headache for three days, so the rain felt wonderful on his skull (crew cut again).

The best thing we bought today was a bag of nettles. Katie, Brian and I were talking about nettles over dinner at Lucca one night.

To date, after surgeries, and injured ankles and back and neck pains, and pulled teeth, burns and cat attacks, nothing stands out as pain quite like an Oregonian nettle sting does. When I think about pain, that’s the pain I picture, and if I focus on what it felt like that day, the hair on my arm actually rises. I remember what my mouth felt like (dry) and my face felt like (tight – the first time that happened) and exactly how it burned and burned. I think I was 13, we were staying in a cabin in the mountains, no clue where. I remember that I was bored and went for a walk and came back just perfectly to brush by that plant.

Our farmshare in Madison (Harmony Valley) would include them in the early boxes, so I’ve cooked with them before, adding them to pasta dishes. Gingerly, suspiciously.

Tonight, I am making pizza dough and we are going to have a nettle, garlic and olive oil pizza. I will also probably make a cilantro pesto pizza as we have left over pesto from last night. Brian is thinking about stinging himself with a nettle before I boil them, just to see what the deal is. I’m recommending against that.

The nettles were my last $2 in the farmers’ market budget. We got them from the mushroom people who are right up there with Groundwork Organics as my favorite vendors at the PSU farmers’ market. The mushroom people sold us the awesomely good dried shiitakes last year that we are still working on using up (a 5 pound bag, awesome to have), and the wild huckleberries that I gorged on and froze and make huckleberry pancakes with, and last week’s seabeans.

The mushroom people are great, because they are happy to sit and talk about how to prepare any of the unusual things they carry. They are going to have seabeans again next week, and she said I really have to get some for sushi since we didn’t use them that way last week. Cool, I can do that.

The person I liked the most today was an elderly woman — I’m guessing mid 80s. She was tiny, and dressed for the rain, but properly, very elegant. She had a good sized traditional black umbrella and she was talking to the oyster fisherman about which was the best type of oyster at this time of year. She was trying to decide which to get for her meal that night. I don’t know why that pleased me so much. She was clearly there on her own, in the rain with the rest of us, connected with the world and happy. That’s probably it, that’s my goal, that’s what I’m trying to achieve and maintain. Neat.

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