The local farmers’ market was our chief source of entertainment this winter. Under lockdown, our trips provided a frisson of excitement that felt like getting tickets to Hamilton. It was the highlight of our weekend and the hub of our social life.
Yet a market in winter is a bleak place. Sometime in January, one of the veg guys simply stopped coming. The other had only kale, cabbage and more kale. But there was still enough going on to make us put on our almost-best clothes, venture out into the cold and make the most of it.
We had very long conversations with the fishmongers about the best ways to cook cod’s roe (boil gently then fry in foaming butter, finish with lemon) and paused to appreciate the finer points of cashew cheese. We quizzed the vegan bakers on their meringue topping (aquafaba — it really works) and we got to know the chicken we bought — her name, food and favourite pastime. Anything to pass a few more minutes outside, to get a smidgen more human interaction.
We kept on coming even when we couldn’t possibly stomach any more kale, even after the horrible weekend when the coffee cart stopped showing up and even when our friends couldn’t bring themselves to spend the price of a smartphone on a bottle of single-estate biodynamic walnut oil.
The market still dictates our meals and right now stalls are awash with soft velvety pods, new-growth shoots and leaves in all shades of green. The fish vendor has those mottled red mullet that return to southern England as the water warms. We just need to bring these ingredients home and gently introduce them to each other. The sweet mullet flakes like no other fish, its fatty skin crisps like crackling, the new garlic has nothing harsh in it — it is all sweetness — and the bittersweet beans roll and pop on the tongue like a kiss. Our kale days are over — for a while at least.
Spring dinner for two
By Itamar Srulovich. Recipe by Sarit Packer. Email them at and follow them on Instagram
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