Walking through the Union Square Greenmarket, I often feel like such an amateur. Dumfounded by the varieties of potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, squash, or heirloom tomatoes on display and what to do with them, I often beat a retreat to the bakery stands. Here among the pumpkin tea cakes, gingerbread, and sourdough breads, I feel like an authority. I'm also good with flowers. Nevertheless, members of the health establishment have recently urged me to become more friendly with the vegetable and fruit displays, and accordingly, I'm getting acquainted with the edible natural world. Man or woman does not live by pumpkin raisin bread alone. In the spirit of knowing my vegetables, I've recently learned that the rutabaga, for example, came about as an random hybridization, i.e. love child, between a cabbage and a turnip. Talk about companion planting!
Even if I'm not bringing home pounds of butternut squash or purple potatoes, I do enjoy the bounty of the fall season on display at Union Square Greenmarket. The colors we most associate with autumn- golds, dark greens, crimson reds, and oranges, mix well with touches of purples and plums. Ornamental kales are a good example. The stacks of fruit and vegetables make a beautiful sight. Often musicians are on hand to set the mood. On the day I visited a woman played nice country fiddle, and a guy known as the Renegade Accordion, a fellow who bills himself as "New York's only musical bounty hunter," entertained the shoppers from behind the slits of his Boba Fett helmet. He happens to be a wonderful musician, too. After spending a full hour at the market I returned home with hot turkey sausage, Santa Fe peppers, German butter potatoes and advice from DiPaola Turkey Farm about how to put it all together for dinner. For dessert and breakfast the next morning I picked up a vegan carrot raisin cookie, a small pumpkin cake and a square of pumpkin gingerbread. My apartment smells great.
More information: Union Square Park, 17th St. at Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 8am-6pm; Closed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. See the website of the Council on the Environment of New York City for more about greenmarkets in the city.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from November 11, 2009. To prepare a classic dish made with hot turkey sausage, brown the sausage with chunks of potatoes, a diced onion, a little garlic, oregano and green peppers in olive oil. Transfer to a casserole dish and heat at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour.