I squished the mosquito that had landed on my thigh, wiped the sweat from my upper lip, and picked up my phone. It was 9:00 at night and my window thermometer read 84 degrees.
“Jer, I’ll pick you up at 10:00 tomorrow morning.”
My friend Jerry and I met in college. We have the sort of friendship where we can go for months and months without seeing or speaking to each other and seamlessly pick up exactly where we left off. I feel more like myself with him than I do with anyone else. He knows me so well that there’s nothing to hide.
We had made plans to spend Friday together. He is about to start a new job that will probably dominate his time for years to come. We had tossed around the idea of renting a car and driving upstate. It’s one of those things we always say we’ll do that never actually materializes. However, the recent sweltering temps of New York have uncovered truly awe-inspiring motivation for departure.
I figured I would choose a farmer’s market as a destination and then we’d explore the country from there. I basically threw a dart on the virtual map while googling “farmer’s markets in the Hudson Valley” and decided that the best looked like the one in Poughkeepsie. It was a Friday, so we had some limitations as most of the farmers wait till the weekend to show their harvest off. It didn’t matter though. We just wanted the change of scenery.
On Friday morning, I threw my freshly showered self into a flowered vintage sundress, grabbed the Zipcar, then Jerry, and off we went. In no time at all, we were cruising through the glorious wooded countryside of New York. We stopped at a little cottage restaurant for lunch where we feasted on sandwiches served on freshly baked rosemary brioche with a quiche made from the eggs of their own hens. Invigorated and refreshed, we walked a few blocks down and easily found the farmer’s market. It must have been 20 degrees cooler than the city, as I barely broke a sweat on the walk! The market was in full bloom, with table after table overloaded with fruit and vegetables and happy farmers helping you find exactly what you needed. You could smell the strawberries as soon as you walked in. Sweet white corn overloaded one table and toppled over onto the grassy green beneath. Laughing children with crimson stained hands stuffed fresh cherries into their mouths. And the baskets and baskets of tomatoes! Oh, the sauces I would make! I was practically weeping with joy when…
Wait a minute.
I can’t do it any longer.
It’s all a lie.
The sundress is true, but the rest is all crap.
You know Mapquest? You know how every time you get directions from Mapquest you get lost? Well, I had printed directions to Poughkeepsie through Mapquest and we got lost before we were out of the Bronx. We had a feeling we were being misguided but went with it anyway. I think it should be called “against your better judgement quest”.
We did make it to Poughkeepsie in one piece. We did find a lovely place to eat lunch, though it was a place that could be found on Broadway just as easily as upstate New York. I have to say, nothing confirms the homogenization of America more than a road trip. I fantasized about the quaint home-grown businesses that exist right beyond the city border, but of course it’s all just Dairy Queens, Lube Shops and Walmarts. It feels like you’d have to do a week’s worth of research to find the perfect quaint farmhouse to have lunch – and even then, it’s just a business run by transplanted city folk trying to create the very thing we all want to exist in the countryside.
After lunch, we walked a few blocks because, according to our Mapquest directions, we were right around the corner from the farmer’s market. The local bank’s time and temp sign in the town’s square read 1:15, 94 degrees. My vintage dress was now sticky and crumpled; Jer’s red Polo shirt, visibly darker around the pits. Jerry asked a leathery woman who was smoking outside the local tavern if she knew where the market was. She opened the door to the bar and yelled in to her husband, who stumbled out to assist. They mumbled street names and slurred landmarks. We carefully maneuvered our bodies downwind of their breath and then thanked them earnestly for their assistance.
A left at the park, a right at the gas station, a left at the fork, we got totally lost once again. Finally, with a little determination, patience, and a smart phone, the market we found.
Any bouquet of fresh produce was overruled by the sharp stench of chlorine from the public pool, right next to the “green” where the market was held. We smiled at overweight teens bulging out of their bikinis as they instinctively ran away from the vegetables and toward the Mr. Softee truck on the corner. Not that there were many vegetables. The market consisted of two and a half wobbly card tables with greens and berries, not unlike the ones featured at the local Stop and Shop that week. I bought a zucchini, a bunch of kale, and a yellow squash, feeling desperate to support any farm activity in the world. We went to the next table where there was an old woman selling honey and small, tired blackberries. Jerry bought both. The next table was hosted by a wincing man peddling peaches. I bought a basket though he gave me a look like I should just keep walking.
“They look amazing! Delicious!!” I said, with much more enthusiasm than was appropriate and we all simultaneously looked down at the small, rigid, picked-too-soon peaches and shook our heads. Jerry and I walked quickly to the car.
For the record, we didn’t laugh. We didn’t even speak about it. It was what it was.
Any farmer’s market is better than no farmer’s markets.
We took a longer, more wooded route home and got what we needed – a day out of the city together talking, laughing, just being. Shannon calls any time I spend with Jerry “Jerapy” because I’m always so much more at peace afterwards. That’s the thing about good friends. They make even the worst stuff, the best times.
The next day I got ready make some fresh peach ice cream for the blog, but the peaches were so tart that the ice cream would be all sugar – and what’s the point of that? I tossed them in the trash and took the dogs for a walk. We passed our local Halal food truck. Hmmmmm. Halal.
That’s what I craved.
I came home and made some fresh hummus and whole wheat pita bread. Hey, farm truck or food truck- you just never know where your inspiration will come from.
The secret to great hummus is a lot of lemon juice and a great tahini paste. A few years ago, I discovered Achva Seasoned Tahini, and my hummus was forever changed. In addition to the sesame seeds and sesame oil, it contains a little garlic and parsley, which make all the difference. I also throw a couple of ice cubes instead of water into the mix. It’s a great trick for making hummus smooth and creamy. I whipped this up and then sat on the couch, next to the AC, and scooped the hummus out with the zucchini I had purchased from the market. Not too bad for a city girl.
- 1 can (15 ounce) chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium clove garlic,minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/8 cup virgin olive oil
- 3 ice cubes
- sweet paprika for sprinkling
Process all of the ingredients except the paprika in a food processor until smooth, about 40 seconds. Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until the flavors meld, at least 30 minutes; serve cold. Sprinkle with paprika and enjoy.