I've been talking to a lot of farmers market types as of late. A recent interview with Tyler Horne, who's responsible for a small family of markets in Houston, illuminated the issue of the farmers market tourist.
Sure, lots of us go to the markets on the weekends and pick up a coffee and croissant. Maybe you even pick up one of those crazy sausages I always see Brian Luscher playing with. But if you're not patronizing the farmers and taking home a ton of fresh vegetables then you're not really doing your part to support local family farms.
To help the Looky Lous dip their toes in the water many markets set up chef demonstrations. The idea is to show customers what they can do with the ingredients on hand at the market, bathe the entire market in delicious smells and hopefully convince a few tourists to pull out their wallets.
The practice works. Chad Houser's demonstration back in March had everyone talking about mushrooms and smoked olive oil. His loose recipe was sticky enough that it was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw fresh salad greens and mushrooms at Tom Spicer's produce shop. This weekend Brian Luscher is putting down his wieners to pick up a spatula and fire up some fritattas. Just like Houser he'll have to work only with ingredients he finds that day at the market. Get to the market at 9:30 a.m. if you want to be inspired.
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Too early? Well I won't feel bad for you if all the best kale is long gone. Perhaps you'd like to check out chef Ryan Barnett as he cooks up a grilled Swiss chard dish. He goes on at 11 a.m. I wonder if it will turn out as good as this? Could be better even.