The Good Stuff

A quick stop in Vegas to be part of a roundtable of very cool people on virtual worlds. Played limit hold’em for about four hours–first time I’ve done that outside of home games, and I did pretty well, though I would have done better if I’d had the good sense to cash in when I was $120.00 up. Then off to San Francisco.

The Farmer’s Market here depresses me. It depresses me because it’s so so so good and because there’s no reason why it’s goodness shouldn’t be imitated more broadly. It’s good because the food is in many cases unpretentiously good, just good because the people buying know what’s good and what’s not. That’s all. It’s not what sometimes is entailed in “gourmet” food shopping (like in our neck of the woods) where the potato chips that cost $2.00 per chip are preferred simply because they’re $2.00 per chip.

The smell in the market at noon. Meat fat dripping on a hot surface, the faint scent of cheeses, somewhere the aroma of warm corn tortillas, a drift of cut herbs and roasting vegetables, chickens with rosemary on a rotisserie. That’s the distilled ambrosia of human civilization for me: the buildings, the art, the busy or happy, sad or lost crowds wandering the streets, that’s something but it’s not what matters most to me. It’s what people cook and brew when they come together that matters most.

It’s what I sometimes wish the public sphere was: a market where everyone put out their best wares, a thousand tastes. Some universally loved, others odd and for the quirky palate, but all there to feed and nourish and please.

This entry was posted in Food. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Good Stuff

  1. Wonderful description, Tim; you make we wish I was in San Francisco. I’ve been there, but never to the Farmer’s Market; I’ll have to make a point of visiting it someday. Interesting to read this from you, though, because I’ve long believed that the best farmer’s markets in the U.S.–or at least, the best ones I’ve ever been too–were right in your own backyard: Philadelphia, Lancaster, etc.

  2. Ralph says:

    Russell’s right. It is a wonderful description of the San Francisco market; and Tim’s right in suggesting that locally grown California produce is extra-ordinarily good. But there’s something there also about greener pastures. We avoid gourmet shops in Atlanta and have found an absolutely amazing smorgasbord at the farmer’s market just outside of Atlanta. The market, itself, features an astonishing variety of meats, fish, cheese and produce from all over the world; and the smorgasbord features several things I’ve never tasted every time we go out there — and very inexpensive, too.

  3. Timothy Burke says:

    Well, the DeKalb market is also a wonder of the world, in its own way even better than the one here. The variety of foods there outstrip what’s available here–DeKalb is servicing more cuisines, in a greater variety of ways. I used to ride my bicycle out to it and ride all the way back into Decatur when I lived there for a while: it was worth it. But the food here…I had breakfast this morning at the Marketbar, very simple, but the eggs had basically been laid that morning and the sausage was handmade. That’s all: nothing more spectacular, and not at all expensive, and yet better by a good margin than almost any other breakfast I’ve had.

  4. joeo says:

    San Francisco has got some good food. I work in the skyscraper right across from the Ferry Building, I am just too lazy to buy food from the farmer’s market.

  5. Ralph says:

    Umph! The _thought_ of bicycling out to the DeKalb Farmers’ Market makes me want to take a nap. It’s a great idea, though. I come away from our meals at the Market so stuffed with both new and beloved familiar things that I’m in fairly desperate need of the exercise. My wife’s also discovered the old curbside market in downtown Atlanta that has wonderful offerings. Gad. I’m gaining weight just at the thought of it all.

  6. David Salmanson says:

    I’m with Russell here. Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, the Italian Market, Jersey tomatoes, the various farmer’s markets around the city that bring fresh veggies to neighborhoods that never get them (several swatties involved with this, you know). We live in a fine food culture here in Philly.

  7. Doug says:

    Where/when did you live in Decatur?

    I made that bike ride myself a number of times from a house that was literally on the wrong side of the tracks, over near Agnes Scott. Just a little ways down from Eddie’s Trackside Tavern.

    Here in Munich, people swoon over the Viktualienmarkt, but DeKalb *is* a wonder…

Comments are closed.