Fun At The Farmers' Market: Yo, It's The Italian Scallion

Shopping at farmers’ market is a total kid-in-a-candy-store experience for me. It’s fortunate that there is only so much I can carry home, because otherwise I might need a second fridge.

Here is a sampling from today’s haul at Chicago’s Green City Market

Haul from Chicago's Green City Market July 7 2012

There are raspberries, blueberries, sweet cherries, apricots and peaches; sweet corn, red leaf lettuce, carrots, candy onions (not surprisingly, a variety of sweet onion), green summer squash (better known as zucchini), yellow summer squash (better known as yellow summer squash) and an interesting purple spring onion about which I’ll have more to say below. I’d already refrigerated two pork steaks and a package of bratwurst that I purchased from Jake’s Country Meats of Cassopolis, Michigan, which last week sold me the pork belly that is curing into bacon (hopefully) in the fridge.

Gracie, the Queen of Chicago, helpfully stopped by to do some quality control…

Gracie the Cat Inspects Haul from Green City Market July 7 2012

Now more about those spring onions. They are an Italian heirloom variety that I get from the nice folks at Green Acres Farm, located in North Judson, Indiana. Or, as I like to call them, the Italian Scallion. Yo, Adrian!

Italian spring onions from Chicago's Green City Market

Kind of pretty for an onion, isn’t it? I bought my first bunch last week and liked them a lot. The flavor is only slightly acerbic and a little sweet, a bit like a combination between sweet white and red onions. So far, I’ve only chopped them up into our salads, but I am sure that they cook up swell too. I’ll let you know soon.

I also like to give shout-outs to vendors who treat their customers especially well, and today’s virtual high-five goes to the stand that features Flaming Fury peaches, a variety patented by owner Paul Friday, a veteran grower based in the southwestern Michigan town of Coloma. The stand is run by Friday’s wife, Luiba, to whom I introduced myself early in the season when the stand had a limited selection of berries and cherries. That seems to have earned me some lovely personal attention now that peach season is in full flush. I have been a regular at a handful of taverns over the years, but this is the first time that I have been treated like a regular at a fruit stand!

The tree-grown stone fruit crops in Michigan were greatly diminished because a freak heat wave last March, which caused the trees to flower prematurely, was followed in late April by a freak hard freeze, which literally nipped much of the fruit in the bud. But what survived has thrived in the bizarre hot weather we’ve had lately. If you love peaches, get thee to a farmers’ market soon. And if you are going to Green City, I recommend stopping by and saying hi at Paul Friday’s stand, which is located on the Clark Street side of the market.

Paul Friday's peach stand at Chicago's Green City Market

If you’ve never been to Green City, it is located near the south end of Lincoln Park (the actual park, not the community), at Lincoln Avenue. And it is one of many farmers’ market around town… the City of Chicago website provides a pretty comprehensive list linked here.

Update: I thought it only fair to also show what the end result of all this foraging was this evening. The entree is a pork steak, seasoned with olive oil and Greek seasoning, pan-grilled in a cast-iron grill pan with a couple of split Italian scallions, with fresh peaches (coated with canola oil, cinnamon and brown sugar) grilled in the same pan and steamed local corn on the cob. The salad is romaine lettuce with farmers’ market carrots, some leftover grilled summer squash and sheep’s milk feta from a dairy in Champaign, Illinois. Even the Hemingway Daiquiri has Freshwater White Rum from New Holland in Holland, Michigan. Eat Local!

Homemade grilled pork steak dinner


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  • I love the Green City Market and have not been there yet this year. I will go on Wednesday. I tried market farming with my sister and know what hard work it is especially in years like this. I hope you will write more about local food and farmers.

  • NHandler - Thank you for your comment! And you can count on that. Since moving to Chicago from Washington, DC, last year, I've been working to build a second (paid) career in food writing after 35 years of covering politics, and areas such as sustainable agriculture, the Good Food and Buy Local movements, organics and entrepreneurial efforts such as craft breweries and craft distilleries are among my main interests (apart from cooking all that good stuff I forage from farmers' markets). But pitching stories takes time, so I'm using my blog to let people know what I find. If you know others who share our interests, please spread the word!

  • Happy to share Bob. Best wishes.

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