When I moved to Wisconsin, it was still Winter and this thing called the Polar Vortex was still very much a concern.
For those unfamiliar with the Polar Vortex, all you need to know is it was crazy cold, and some meteorologists gave it a cool name so people wouldn’t be so sad about how crazy cold it was.
For years later, Wisconsinites could say to newcomers, “you think this is bad? In 2014 we survived a Polar Vortex.”
It was not what I would call the finest chapter of my life. It hurt to go outside, and one doesn’t realize how much a person needs fresh air until you are robbed of it.
I, of course, thought it was my civic duty to tell everyone how much it hurt to go outside- a foolproof way to make friends in a new state is definitely complain a lot!- but because Wisconsin people are pretty much the nicest people, they tried to make me feel better about the seasons that were coming, instead of roll their eyes and walk away. Which I couldn’t blame them for doing if they had.
One of the main arguments people made for enduring Winter and staying for Spring was the Farmer’s Market.
Now I’d been to Farmer’s Markets before, both in my home state of North Carolina and during my two years living in New York. So what was so special about this one, guys? If we’re judging by the markets of my past, they’re mostly crowded and expensive and it’s cheaper and easier to go to the grocery store.
What’s so special about this Market that I would forgive Wisconsin for this wintry torment?
My three-year report: The produce is reasonably priced. If you get there early enough the crowds are kind of fine. The flower vendors don’t judge me too harshly for Instagramming their merchandise (I buy stuff. It’s fine). And there’s cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Personally, I think it’s worth the hype.
For you see, I was wronged this week. Farmers’ Market betrayal!
And I think if we’re ranking betrayal, Farmers’ Market betrayal is pretty high up there. After drug store betrayal, but before pizza delivery betrayal.
Here’s what happened: Last weekend, I went to the Farmers’ Market and bought, among 72 other things, a container of cilantro pesto from a stand that seemed to specialize in pesto, empanadas, and young men in their twenties with well-groomed beards.
I was drawn in by the line-up of pesto samples, as I am with a line-up of any samples, and immediately knew I had to buy the cilantro pesto.
It tasted like springtime. Delicious springtime. Like you ate a freshly mowed lawn without any of the pesky social stigma of eating grass clippings.
It was 5 dollars which was a little steep, but I thought with some budget trickery, I could do it. Plus, the young man with the well-groomed beard and I had banter.
Pesto? More like yes-to!
That’s just a little taste of my killer banter skills.
When I went back to the market yesterday, already weighed down with an obscene amount of tomatoes and green onions, I found the pesto stand. I went in feigning ignorance because one must not be too eager about her pesto. A different young man with a different well-groomed beard whose name is probably Teigen or Willem or Braxton began chatting me up. I can go crazy with the samples, he said! The weather IS beautiful, he said! I groom my beard myself, he said!
And then without investigating my surroundings, I said I’d take one container of cilantro pesto.
“Great! That’ll be *mumble* dollars.” Roscoe, like all boys in their twenties with well-groomed beards and affinity for suspenders, had not yet mastered enunciation.
I, like a fool who expects pricing to be the same from one week to the next, had my five dollar bill ready in my hand.
As if ripping off young Tennyson’s rose-colored Warby Parker glasses, I noticed another young man with a well-groomed beard calling out, “We have empa-nay-das! Hot, fresh empa-nay-das!” His name was probably Rufus and listens to cassette tapes for the “earthy sound quality.”
Guys, it’s really not pronounced empa-nay-das. All was not well with this market stand.
This point was further made when Gulliver repeated himself. My cilantro pesto would be eight dollars. Eight. That is too many dollars for a small container of pesto. Especially when it’s a three dollar price hike over the course of a single week.
But it was in that moment, the Scarlet O’Hara gene that science has proven all Southern women have, came roaring to the fore.
As God as my witness, I will never buy pesto from the walking beards again.
Also, don’t Google that Scarlet O’Hara thing.
I will buy this last container because I need to read the ingredient list and righteous indignation will only take me so far and I also really want that pesto and I will have all the samples my heart desires over the next four months to get that money back. But I shant be wooed by banter and edible springtime again!
I call this recipe…
- 1 cup packed cilantro
- 1/2 cup packed parsley
- 1/2 cup packed oregano
- 1/2 cup feta
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend till it reaches a smooth consistency.
What Really Happened
I tried to make this in my magic blender because my big-mama-blender (what I call my normal-sized blender) is hard to scrub in my studio apartment style sink. As you can see in the picture above, it went very well and wasn’t a mistake.
I tried this in two batches. One batch had more feta and garlic because the fact is those things are delicious things, but it didn’t have the same spring in its step. The garlic and feta were too strong for that “springtime” flavor.
Cutting the feta down to half a cup gave it a better texture and just a hint of flavor, and let the greenery do its thing. I’d say the flavor in 90% the same, and when you crunch the numbers, I spent 10 dollars on the supplies that produced three times as much pesto as Nico sold me.
Growing up, when we were out shopping, no matter what store, my mother would frequently lean over to one of her children and conspiratorially whisper, “we could make that!”
Sometimes we tried and sometimes it didn’t always go well, but as I write this post eating my justice pesto, I have to thank my mother for teaching her four kids to give it a try. For teaching her kids you don’t always have to take what you’re given.
Even if there’s banter from young men with well-groomed beards.