Usually on hump-day I spend my few hours off between teaching and work writing about a film, song, TV show, book, artistic endeavor, or some entertainment related experience I want to pass along for your info-tainment. Today, I will not. I had such a lovely morning in this beautiful city I am compelled to write from my heart (mainly my stomach) and write another pseudo food blog. It doesn't involve a restaurant or meal, but something much greater and more influential; the Lincoln Park Farmer's Market. I taught my Sunrise Yoga bright and early and eagerly hopped on my bike to ride further downtown, further into the downright gorgeous neighborhood that is Lincoln Park. A mere 2 miles from my apartment in Lakeview, on the way to Chicago's famous Loop, which is another 2 miles from LP itself, the market resides at the southern most point, just beyond the zoo. Approximately where Clark street crashes into both the park and the lake is where these hard-working vendors set up bright and early, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7 am to noon.
Upon arrival I park my bike and am greeted by the smell of fresh strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, and a cavalcade of exquisite flowers. I saddle up to the smoothie tent, purchase a $5 blueberry and mint smoothie and am off to peruse. The smoothie has such a bright, bold flavor, and the nutritious effects set in almost instantly. No longer am I tired from my hot-yoga class, I am renewed and ready to spend my hard-earned dollars.
I decide to do a lap before I commit to a location (nerds will recognize the movie reference). I greet and overlook each vendor and their goods, taking a strawberry, some greens and some tasty cheese as I move along. The slender, bright green asparagus is calling my name. I buy an organic bunch from a cheerful woman for $4 and continue my hunt. Next is a small, L-shaped pavilion with some of the most plump, argent, juicy looking tomatoes I'd ever had the fortune to see. They spanned multiple colors of the rainbow and I snatched them up real fast and in a hurry. I also grabbed some basil, sprouts, a lush variety of greens, and a pint of strawberries for what shall be a damn healthy week.
Taking a side-step from health for a moment if I may, I'd like to succinctly discuss my time with a local Wisconsin cheese merchant. Holy monkey balls. I love cheese. I get that it's not healthy. Sure I convince myself of its benefits by saying it's natural, it has protein, and there's certainly a chemical effect in my brain while consuming it, but I'm well aware it's merely a treat, and should be treated as an actual food group. My quest for cheese has landed me in the windmill dusted hills of Holland, the vineyard lined landscape of Italy, the blue-roofed homes in Santorini, but I will sit at this desk and take my hat off to Wisconsin. They have every right to wear that ridiculous cheese hat on their heads. When I approached the tent, the vendor was sauteing this soft, milky looking cheese that smelled so potent I could almost taste it. There was a diverse array of samples so I grabbed a toothpick and went on my way. Some cheeses were infused with such nuances as garlic, dill, mustard, tomato and basil, smoked bacon, and some were just brilliant as they were, but all were savory and delicious. I relished each morsel as it bounced around my taste buds and traveled to my throat. I ended up purchasing the sautéed cheese, rendered of his moisture, and harnessed with its flavor. MMM, life is good.
At this time in the morning it was about 80 degrees, the Lake Michigan breeze wafting through my hair, birds chirping, the air crisp. Chicago residents brought their dogs, significant others, kids, friends, and their happy hearts. Everyone was smiling, friendly, very happy to support this local effort, knowing not only the top quality, wholesome food they were investing in, but the benefactors being those who really deserved it, those who earned it with their own two hands. It was so satisfying to chat briefly with each vendor, see the passion in their eyes and hear it in their voices. I can tell you for certain the Wal-Mart CEO doesn't give a shit what's in your food, nor does whatever large grocery store you frequent. So if you can take time and perhaps a modicum of extra income, you and others will reap the benefits ten-fold.
Masticate. Eat consciously. Chew well. Purchase wisely. Enjoy.