I love autumn, especially the harvest. And it's on its way.
This past Sunday I went to the farmer's market, about 20 minutes out of town on the way to the airport. It was quiet and smaller than on most days, but it was still in full swing. There were plants, flowers, flowering plants, fruit, vegetables, fruiting and vegetable-ing plants, and fresh churned butter.
So there weren't any crepes, Algerians selling olive oil and tagines, or a Baji lady. But the South has its own specialties: fresh squeezed lemonade and pork skins! Here's a picture of my colleague getting some lemonade. The lemonade guy was awesome. All he wanted to do was talk. It turns out he has a son in Massachussetts, where my friend got her Ph.D. And he went to law school where we teach. And he had this wonderful, kind of formal way of speaking, which I later learned is sometimes called "High Southern."
Also there were lots of apples and pears, varieties I had never heard of including a monstrous giant apple, mostly green with some red, kind of lumpy actually, a little obscene, really, called "Adam and Eve." Mixed apples and pears for $4 a peck. A peck, it turns out, is a smallish paper bag (about 8 apples). We were surprised to see so many apples, but we surmised they came from the Mountains, where it's cooler (NB it's already started to cool down here and is in the lower 60s tonight). The ones we bought were definitely from the mountains.
There were also pink and yellow speckled beans, which I remembered seeing at Jean Talon in Montreal. Here, they're called "October Beans." Not to mention baby vidalia onions and the biggest heirloom tomatoes I have ever seen for the lowest price, $1.29 a pound (see photo below right).
The number of things you can plant in the ground here that will actually grow is fairly remarkable. My friend bought two large-ish hibiscus trees at $5 each. We also saw large fruiting fig trees, heavy with little yellow-brown local figs ripening on their branches. They were $25 each and we both went home planning to research whether we could plant them in our backyards or in pots and have them fruit next summer. There were pots of Carolina Crepe Myrtle everywhere, which looks like a tall fuschia lilac tree and flowers all summer (there are two right outside my house in bloom when I arrived a month ago and still going strong), as well as the divine trumpet vine, which releases its creamy scent only at night.
In the end, I returned with the ingredients for an amazing summer's end gazpacho, two bouquets of flowers, a smile on my face, and a craving for a fig tree. Here's how the farmer's market dahlias have enhanced my apartment: