Farmers’ Market

Before you read this post, please take some time and read this thought-provoking, insightful and worrisome Op-Ed piece from this weekend’s edition of the New York Times, My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables), and remember one thing:  the moment that you start taking money from a governmental organization, you’ve given up a small piece of your freedom.  Farm subsidies and the ensuing restrictions are just one of the many problems associated with allowing the government to manage and interfere with peoples’ lives on such an intrusive level.

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Okay, that said, on to the pictures:

Favor de no mayugarlos
“Please don’t squeeze the avocados!”  Augh!  But they’re so squeezable!

My mother and I went to the giant Farmers’ Market on Airline this past Saturday.  We stocked up on produce for the week, she for her clients (my mother is a professional chef, but cooks for private clients only) and me for my bewildered husband and I to eat.  Husband: “What’s a pomelo?  Did you really buy five pounds of oranges??”

Nadia vende mas barato
It’s true!

Needless to say, speaking Spanish is very useful if you’re shopping at the market on Airline.  However, for those Spanish-challenged Houstonians, some of the signs are helpfully translated for you.

Pozole?
Want to make some pozole? Start here.

The sheer quantity of dried goods sold at the market could fill the Goodyear Blimp twice over.  They even sell real cinnamon, not just dried cassia.

Habaneros, Front & Center
Hot, hot, hot.

Every stand had at least one enormous box of habañero peppers for sale.  They looked like little nuggets of gold panned from a stream.

Mole!
Mole!

Don’t have time to make mole from scratch? Don’t fret; you can buy it premade here. And it’s good.

Giant Carrots
Egads!

The market also sells some of the largest, beefiest carrots known to man. They make your storebought carrots look puny and sad by comparison.

Fresh Eggs
I like the brown ones.

In the mood for fresh eggs? You can find any size, shape and color egg that your little heart desires at the market’s Egg House. It’s a giant, walk-in cooler the size of a mobile home that houses beautiful, fresh eggs from floor to ceiling. Just grab a carton and fill it up.

After walking around for a good hour, and purchasing three giant boxes of food and produce for paltry $45, total (including beets, watercress, potatoes, 10-15 onions, cornmeal, avocados, bananas, pineapple, pears, apples, leeks, spinach, cabbage, okra, dill, various oranges, eggplant, spaghetti squash, honey, strawberries, etc.) we headed next door to El Bolillo, a panaderia that’s just as popular as el gran mercado on Saturday mornings.

Walking into El Bolillo, the smell of the yeast and fresh bread nearly knocks you over. It’s intoxicating and overwhelming in the best possible way. The quantity and variety of breads and pastries that come out of the kitchen and into their cases like clockwork is brilliant. If you’re a carbivore, this might very likely be where you’ll end up when you die — if you’ve been good, that is.

Bolillos
Bolillos.

Need some bolillos? This is the place. They are absolutely steaming hot; standing next to them was like standing by a small, comforting campfire. The pastries and bread go so quickly that they’re almost always hot, or at least warm. As such, the method for choosing your pastries is to grab a giant waiter’s tray and a pair of tongs and have at it. You can pile the tray to the ceiling with hot bread without suffering any minor burns.

Panaderia
I wish my camera could capture smells…

Aside from just bread, El Bolillo makes all kinds of Mexican pastries, the kind that I grew up on as a kid. My favorites are the fat, semi-glossy marranitos, or “ginger pigs” as I used to call them. They don’t actually contain any ginger, and therefore aren’t gingerbread at all, but they are pig-shaped, so at least I got one thing right as a small child.

Panaderia Counter
Checking out.

El Bolillo also makes beautiful cakes for weddings, quinceañeras, birthdays, confirmations, and other occasions. The women manning the registers are stunningly swift and expedient, bagging your pastries and ringing them up in mere seconds. If only that kind of service existed everywhere…

Churros y Bolillos
Must stop while we’re ahead…

We had to concentrate in order not to overload our tray with unnecessary and calorie-laden pan dulces, which is always a difficult task.  But even with all that self-discipline, we ended up with a 50/50 mixture of bread and pastries.  On top, you can see the piping hot churros that we munched on as we drove home.

If you like fresh produce, eggs and bread — and you like them cheap and cheerful — head down to Airline the next time you’re in the market for good food.  Just remember to bring cash and a big, sturdy bag to tote all of your goodies around; pineapples get heavy after a while.

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14 responses to “Farmers’ Market

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. pretty pictures , daddy calm now, no killings today.

  3. I’m on the next plane. Oh, bring on those habaneros!

    I read that op-ed piece the other day; it ought to be required reading.

    Thanks for the tour. I feel as if I’ve been there.

  4. Wow I am absolutely loving those photos! 🙂 Well done.

  5. I wish I had that close to me… Pike Place Markets prices are not super competitive… but the produce is great!

  6. @ Chris: …

    @ daddy-o: I’m glad to hear that my pictures have averted yet another workplace disaster. 🙂

    @ ellaella: We’d be happy to have you! Houston is a foodie paradise. 😀

    @ amsiewong: Thanks!

    @ Asthmagirl: Oh, but you can’t beat Pike Place for scenery. Or for fish & chips. Man, I miss Seattle now! 🙂

  7. OK, I’m hungry!!

  8. I have been going to that market around once a week. It is definitely fun, but you also discovered my favorite bakery. I always end up buying more than I wanted, because my one year old daughter grabs a set of tongs for herself! Fortunately, it is all priced nice.

  9. looks really d-lish healthy — must go

  10. @ Debra: Hee! Next time you’re down here, we’ll go and pig out. 🙂

    @ frank: I like it! You’re starting her young! That’s the way to go. 🙂 And you’re right: the bread is unbelieveably cheap!

    @ Duke: Do! But don’t go on an empty stomach! You’ll end up blowing a huge wad of cash. 🙂

  11. Finally someone is giving some props to the bakery that is El Bolillo. If you’re into Mexican bread, the place rocks. Great pics btw.

  12. now that my keyboard is all covered in drool from them pics….all i can say is MMMMMM

  13. Pingback: Pickling the Harvest: Even when it is not your own « A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

  14. In 1987 I worked for Martino Produce getting pallets of stuff form North Side Bannana Company onto display by forklift from one side of the market to the other about 6am and that was late. I enjoyed unloading black-eyed peas, okra, Tyler Texas home grown tomatoes and peaches; mangoes and papayas…

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