It seems that especially at this time of year, many memories are attached to food. At some magical point, it’s not about the physical food anymore, but about the relationships and traditions that surround it.
As for most people, mine are numerous throughout the holidays. It started as kids with Halloween and “tolls” my parents started inventing to snag some candy, or the epic candy swaps between siblings and friends. Pumpkin pie is a serious affair in my parents’ house – it’s a recipe handed down from a faded Pillsbury cookbook that my mother received as a wedding gift (much scoffed at, at the time!). Now it and the pie are family heirlooms and I have requested it to be willed to me on more than one occasion! Christmas brings a bizarre juxtaposition. It’s a roast for Christmas Eve and Chinese take-out for Christmas Day. My mother always insisted that it was her holiday too, afterall. New Year’s wraps up the food-driven holidays at their house and is often a last minute affair. There’s been every meal from pizza to rabbit stew and venison loin (I went through a wild game phase in my early 20’s).
The Winter Farmers’ Markets are ripe for this same kind of memory-making. I find that now I simply cannot function without a sausage croissant from Kellie Brook, and I do not even like sausage! Similarly, I have developed a near obsession with mozzarella from Wolf Meadow. An elderly neighbor watches my dog, Ruby, while I am working at the market all day. Goodies from 45 Market Street Bakery and Karimah’s Kitchen have become staple gifts and shared snacks when I pick her up and linger to chat. The list goes on of course: I can never resist some good natured teasing with my brussels sprouts from Heron Pond, carrots from Meadow’s Mirth, or onions from Riverside Farm. There’s always a fun anecdote when I visit Stout Oak Farm and Kate often feeds my adventurous side (literally) when I pick up a new-to-me veggie. I often imagine that my market list will grow interminably as I discover more favorite items and friends. I’m OK with that.
It seems, as I think it should be, that all my favorite market products are now attached to a person, a routine or a shared story. In my world, that’s sustenance of a whole different quality and level.
Wherever you travel in your food journey these holidays and beyond, I wish you all the same.