In cooking, freshness/quality, simplicity, technique clarity, and love are four of the most important ingredients. That’s why I love shopping at farmers markets. For me, all of these things can be found there. Seasonal, freshly picked produce just begging to be paired and created into a wonderful meal later that day or week, simple and joyful communal interaction with neighbors and farmers, and stirring scents from the earth and sun. All of this comes together in one wonderful place, to drive the creativity engines of what will become a soulful, nutritious, and delicious meal. Plus, it’s just so much more fun than shopping in a grocery store!
I first discovered the joys of shopping and cooking this way when I lived in Paris and France and supped from the wonderful daily marches offered in villages throughout that beautiful country. When I moved to Charleston, S.C., a decade ago, I was thrilled to discover our daily Saturday morning market in downtown Charleston. Since that time, it grew along with the growing demand for and supply of local seasonal produce and artisanal goods. It’s an exciting and wonderful place. In fact, all of the recipes in Southern Farmers Market Cookbook were inspired by the produce and goods I purchased there. I wrote Southern Farmers Market Cookbook to help people understand practical ways to approach this type of shopping and cooking, so that a farmers market trip is not only joyful, but yields delicious meals that will feed you and your family for several days. It’s a liberating experience!
To me, this is the most inspiring way to cook. Fresh, beautiful food is left to sing its own flavor and texture song and thus requires very little embellishment. Also, the produce of the season naturally fits together, as the spring turnips and sweet onions of early spring naturally come together in the Creamy White Turnip Soup with Spring Onions and Roasted Garlic recipe listed below. Same goes for oyster and shiitake mushrooms working in taste and texture tandem in the Meaty and Meatless Wild Mushroom Soup, and the sweet/salty pairing of earthy butterbeans and smoked pig in the utterly delicious Fresh Butter Bean and Smoked Ham Hock Soup (lima beans can be substituted).
They’re all delicious, soul- and belly-warming additions for your cool weather table. Enjoy!